For the past twelve months we have been besieged by forecasts of what life will be like in the year 2000. Predictions have ranged from the end of the world to visits from aliens and world peace. We haven’t heard much about what individuals are planning other than stocking up for their last days on earth. At Restaurant Hospitality, we decided to interview a cross section of people in the industry to see what they have planned for Y2K. Everyone was asked the same question “What are you personal and professional resolutions for the New Year?” Read on and you’ll see some definite themes that most people in this industry can relate to.

James Henderson, director of training and development for Raffertys and involved in recruiting executive staff: ” Lose 20 lb. I was an athlete and have lost my athletic feel. I plan to start working out. I was always involved in music, but this business has kept me so busy, I haven’t been able to do as much. I resolve to return to my musical pursuits by buying a new set of drums, and taking voice lessons. I sing choral, chamber music, acapella, and Gospel. This will benefit me in my professional and personal life. Sometimes I just sleep after work. I don’t want to become stale. By doing my music and working out I’ll have more energy be more creative.

Jerry Fernandez, executive director of the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance: Make one significant step toward improving my health in the first quarter of the year. Personally take more time to smell the roses. See more beauty, be more positive, create memories with people that matter. When I travel I don’t take time to see the cities I go to. My meetings with people have been so focused on outcomes and not enough on building relationships. Sometimes we don’t get to the real issues, or looking at where were going strategically. I want to understand my customers better and be able to think about next steps with them.

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Ashley Smith, one of the owners of Opaline and Radio Perfecto in New York City: I don’t make yearly resolutions but make an effort every day to live my beliefs and values personally and in my restaurants. We resolve to keep our restaurants love based rather than fear based; ask each other rather than demand, encourage employees to take risks and not be afraid to make mistakes, make our customers feel good and welcome from the moment they enter until they leave, continue to know all our regular customers by name. This business is all encompassing, 24 hours on call a day. I I’ll spend more time with my partner and 14 year old daughter. More time just hanging out with family, listening to and talking about music with my daughter. We listen to everything together from hip-hop to jazz and pop.

Joe Gisi, corporate chef for Harry Restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri: “Be more family oriented- Business has become my life. I have an 8 year old daughter and I don’t want to miss out on things with her. I have somewhat because of my dedication to my work. Be more selective with time, and organize it better. Do more planning of day trips with my family, like go to Kansas City, see the Lake of the Ozarks, go bowling and bicycling. At work I want to get more in touch with other peoples feelings that I supervise, and pay attention to their needs and wants. Be more patient with my wife who manages one of our restaurants. Joan Ray senior vice president of Elliot Associates, an organization that recruits talent for the restaurant industry. “Take my husband to a Broadway show. We’ve talked about it for years. He’s never been to one. I’ve always gone without him. We’ll spend more time together this year and I’ll slow down. Start reading more business related books to keep up with the latest trends in management philosophy.

Brian Lacey, vice president of People Services for AFC: Continue to maintain my workout schedule, 90 minutes a day, 4 days a week. I’ve been doing it for four months despite tremendous pressure in my work life. Continue to schedule meetings around my aerobic exercise in the morning. When I travel I’ll walk up and down steps with a loaded briefcase if there is no gym. I look for hotels that have workout equipment. I’ve already lost 20 pounds. I’m elevating my energy level so I can go 17 hours a day without sleep and stay focused. This year is my breakthrough in business. I ‘m breaking out of the H.R. function and moving into the business side, and increasing my risk taking, This is the second step of my journey to increase division and company presidents of color.

David Gray, owner of 2223 Market St. in San Francisco: Don’t make customers wait for their tables by modifying reservations and not overbooking. Take a hard look at our menu and see where we can pick up speed. Increase marketing for shoulder periods before 7pm and after 9pm so there won’t be such a rush. Convince the public that it is cool to eat at 6pm. Not be so obsessed with details. Have more confidence with myself and be able to let go of things I can’t control. I just bought a house and want to spend time in it. I joined a gym and haven’t gone yet, but I resolve to go immediately after the New Year.

Wendy Levy and Kerry Heffernan, co-owners, general manager and chef of Autumn Moon in Oakland, Ca Wendy: Cut out 16 hour days. Spend more time spiritually. I’m studying at synagogue for my Bat Mitzvah and want to complete it this year. Take one day a week off to teach film at UC Berkeley and SF State University, and work on my documentary ” Waitressing in America”. Business wise, develop a retail product line and finish writing our cookbook.

Kerry: “Enjoy life outside of Autumn Moon. by sculpting. I just moved and am putting together my studio.”

Almost everyone we interviewed agreed that the restaurant industry is high stress and constant. If you, like our interviewees resolve to spend more time doing what you enjoy after work and get healthier, you need to mark off time in your calendar, and follow through. Keep a record of your progress. We’ll be checking back with everyone later in the year and reporting on their results.


Simma Lieberman

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