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An Industry of Opportunity

Restaurant owners, operators and employees are some of the most motivated, creative and savvy businesspeople in our nation, creating jobs in every community.

Hear their stories.


Maggie Kauer Maggie Kauer
Culver's of Little Chute

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
19 years.

What was your first restaurant position?
Dishwasher.

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
The opportunity to purchase and operate my own restaurant.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed
with you throughout your career?

That I am not in the food business, I am in the people business. Taking care of your team is the number one priority in my day to day operations. If you take care of your team they take care of your restaurant and most importantly, your guests.


Mark Gold Mark Gold
Pizza Shuttle, Milwaukee

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
37 years.

What was your first restaurant position?
Little Caesars in Detroit in 1978. I prepped food.

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
It provided me with an alternative to college, factory or trade school and allowed me to thrive both financially and personally.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed with you throughout your career?
The most important lesson is how to adapt positively with the constant changes in life and work.


Betsey Acrey Betsey Acrey
The Birchwood Cafe & Diner, Birchwood

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
Waitress in high school 1981/1982.
Began purchase process in October 2009 of The Birchwood Cafe.

What was your first restaurant position?
Waitress in high school in Pittsfield, Illinois at The Heritage House a diner setting in the morning and a supper club setting at night. I did this my junior and senior year in high school.

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
To connect with the community in which my restaurant is located and offer a place for local students to work and learn skills and values they can apply in their future. One on one connection between customer and employee is our goal.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed with you throughout your career?
A customer’s experience starts at the opening of our door and ends with the closing of the door behind them as they leave our restaurant. What they smell, see, hear and feel upon entering and departing will be the first and last impression. While the experience of dining is absolutely important - after all that's what they came in for - but we must also satisfy the other senses upon arrival and departure.


Linda Wendt Linda Wendt
Wendt's on the Lake, Van Dyne

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
50 years.

What was your first restaurant position?
I started in the business as a waitress; however this was a time when we bussed our own tables, washed our own dishes, and took care of cleaning the restaurant top to bottom. We were much more than waitresses then. I worked my way through all the positions to become owner of Wendt’s on the Lake at age 27.

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
Some of the greatest opportunities I’ve had while in the industry have been the connections I’ve been able to make with my peers. The opportunities through the Wisconsin Restaurant Association have allowed me to become more involved in the political process, most especially being able to attend the Public Affairs Conference in Washington DC several times over the years.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed
with you throughout your career?

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned that has held true throughout my career is that surrounding yourself with the right people is the ultimate key to success. You can never have too much attention paid to any detail, and it’s never too early to start planning for the next event or next holiday.


Gary Rudy Gary Rudy
Rudy’s Drive In, Lacrosse and Sparta

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
50 years. I started washing glasses in the 2nd grade.

What was your first restaurant position?
Started washing glasses in the 2nd grad and then graduated to making root beer floats.

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
To be my own boss, run my own store and work as hard as I want. I also get to interact and teach young people on what is to like to be in the service industry. That is very rewarding.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed
with you throughout your career?

The customer is always right. Customer service is KING.


Rick Carlson
Carlson's Rustic Ridge, Friendship

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
25 years.

What was your first restaurant position?
Dishwasher.

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
Ownership.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed with you throughout your career?
Quality.


Jim Jones
Jim Jones (Manager Restaurant Operations—
Restaurant Services Division)
Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
35 years.

What was your first restaurant position?
Dishwasher at The Del Bar Restaurant in Lake Delton.

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
Increased management responsibilities in a variety of healthcare, education and now B & I type operations.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed
with you throughout your career?

Jeff and Jane Wimmer at the Del Bar taught me that quality food, customer service and taking care of employees are equal to the success of the restaurant. They had high standards for work and a business reputation that translated quickly to me at a young age. I was proud to work there and that experience inspired me to pursue a Food Service Admin. degree from UW-Madison and a career in the restaurant industry.


Jean Landreman
Jean Landreman
Landreman’s Family Restaurant, Kaukauna

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
My husband Mark started as a busser when he was 16, way back in 1974. He worked his way up through the ranks and 23 years later we bought our own place.

What was your first restaurant position?
Needless to say, my first position was owner, but only because of Mark’s background and his confidence when we purchased the restaurant.

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
My favorite, when a guest comes in and appears to be a little down – and we can turn that around really fast. It’s like a challenge: how soon before they are smiling and enjoying their meal. We are a part of so many celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, you name it.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed
with you throughout your career?

Be nice no matter where you are. Treat people the way you want to be treated.


Patrick Campbell
PJ Campbells Depot, Plymouth

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
39 years.

What was your first restaurant position?
Washing dishes in my grandfather's restaurant.

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
It has taken my passion for what I love to do and turned it into a business that I can be proud of and call my own.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed with you throughout your career?
Perseverance, hard work, the ability to laugh. These are the things that get you through the good times and the bad.


John Weinrich
Newport Shores, Port Washington

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
36 years.

What was your first restaurant position?
Dishwasher.

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
Money to retire early, many contacts with all types of people, having lots of adopted grandparents.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed with you throughout your career?
Work your business and it will reward you, neglect it and it will punish you.


Eric Groth
Melting Pot, Brookfield

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
12 Years.

What was your first restaurant position?
Crew member at McDonalds.

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
Even when I transitioned into another career, I kept bartending part time which brought me back into the industry and into management. I love what I do and the people I work with. I did not enjoy what I did previously to moving back into the restaurant industry full time.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed with you throughout your career?
Always keep a positive attitude and stay focused on the goals of the restaurant and team members. Maintain a fun, safe work environment and make the experience of every guest memorable.


Todd Frisoni
Door County Ice Cream Factory and Sandwich Shoppe, Sister Bay

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?
22 years.

What was your first restaurant position?
Dishwasher

What opportunities has the restaurant industry provided you?
I put myself through college (UW-Madison) and then it became my full-time career after college. Hopefully, I will be able to send both of my kids to college (UW-Madison I hope) through my hard work in the restaurant.

What are the lessons learned that have stayed with you throughout your career?
In order to get the most out of your people, you need to be present, but not micro-manage. That can be difficult when you own a seasonal business and have almost an entirely new staff every year. Hard work can be fun if you have the right group of people. I have been fortunate with my hires over my 16 years as owner. We have had some really great kids work for us.


How did you get started in the restaurant industry? Share your story with us.
 
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Wisconsin Restaurant Association • 2801 Fish Hatchery Rd. • Madison, WI 53713 • Tel: 608.270.9950 • Toll Free: 800.589.3211 • FAX: 608.270.9960