I am currently the bar developer/manager for smoQ, an upscale Southern comfort style restaurant located in Springdale, Ohio (a northern suburb of Cincinnati). Prior to this I was a bar manager for Bar Louie, and for Cheeseburger in Paradise for over three years (in addition to serving/training/various other positions for nearly two years), and I have worked at a variety of other places. I started out at a restaurant called Cadillac Ranch in Kalamazoo where I worked for about eight months (until right before it closed), and then worked the following summer at the Frankenmuth Brewery in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Working at the Brewery played a large part in me falling in love with the restaurant industry. I was very sad to leave the Brewery and the people there when I went back to school that fall, but it gave me four months of incredible serving experience and a better look into how restaurants run. Just as I was finishing with school, I was hired into CiP for its grand opening in Michigan. I was thrilled for the opportunity to be in the original staff for a new restaurant, and ended up absolutely adoring my job. I worked for a couple of other restaurants part-time while I was still just a server and trainer there (one corporate, one private), but it was always where my loyalties stood.

I've fallen in love with working in the restaurant industry, and I'm happiest helping my bartenders behind the bar. The atmosphere is so unique, and every day is different from the last--I never get bored with my job. The industry definitely comes with its own set of challenges, however, and it's not for everybody. In Michigan, servers only make $2.65 an hour (a lot of people don't realize that), so they really rely on tips to pay their bills. Some restaurants are highly lucrative for servers (particularly very high end or exceptionally busy restaurants), but a large number really aren't, so every little bit counts. Whenever I go out to eat I often tip 20% or more. Even when I have really bad service I'm not likely to tip less than 18%; I understand that there is a lot more to the server's job than meets the eye, and I never know what might be happening behind the scenes.

Dan and I often discuss our future restaurant together--our current vision is an upscale cocktail lounge where the food and cocktails go hand-in-hand. While I am passionate about the craft cocktail movement, I am just as passionate about hospitality. While some of my favorite places are trendy bars that tend to shun products like vodka (trust me, I don't like it either), and don't carry Red Bull, I will never be one of those places. If somebody enters my bar and orders a Lemondrop martini or an Amaretto Sour, they can be assured that they will be enjoying the best possible one I and my bartenders can offer them. My business is to take care of people, not make them feel inadequate.