Search Interviews:

Chad Franzen 4:54

What is it about the restaurant industry that you find particularly enjoyable?

Alexander Green 5:01

It’s, for me, it’s the people, to cool people outweigh the bad people’s person, I love hospitality, I love putting a smile on people’s faces. Something about that that’s rewarding in itself. Every day is different. I also like that. And I like that there’s always change. There’s always ideas, menu development, cocktail development, you know, nothing stays the same, it’s always changing. And I like to be a part of that change. And I like to be a sponge I like to learn. And I also like to teach. So I think it’s a great place where you can mentor, and you can also be mentored. No one’s above anyone in this business, everyone, everyone counts in the restaurant, business, everyone. So that’s always my model, you know, from the dishwasher, to the hostess, to the bar back to the managers, everyone has to play, their role is to make sure the team successful. So, you know, I like, you know, being a part of that and being in control.

Chad Franzen 6:01

At a risk of putting you on the spot, you went from, you know, dishwasher to pizza delivery guy, and then you worked your way up. And now you’re the managing director for two restaurant locations. Can you tell me about a learning experience or two that you had while working your way up that’s helped you in your job today.

Alexander Green 6:20

I’d say one of my best learning experiences was It was basically we had a couple that they adopted a baby, the baby ended up getting cancer and dying. And they waited about two years and decided that they wanted to adopt again. The adoption company reached out to us that Monday, and said, You know, usually it takes two to three months to adopt a child sometimes longer, just so happen that they had a child that was being born. And they were gonna give this child to this couple that Friday. So I’m by delivering everything to a table, never what I thought I’d be delivering a newborn baby to a table. That was probably the most eye opening experience for me. Because, you know, we get caught up in the food and the drinks. But at the end of the day, I learned that it really is the guests that makes it a special time. And for me, it’s you know, making sure that you never know who’s walking through your door. And anyone could come in for anything. And our job is to make it special for them. So that day I learned, you know, a very important lesson of this is why we do this to put real genuine smiles on people’s faces. So that was one of the most awesome things that I ever experienced. And, you know, I’ll always keep that in my back pocket when dealing with people and knowing that some people don’t have a good day, some people having a great day, it’s our job to make it better.

Chad Franzen 7:54

What are some challenges you face in your job now as Managing Director at two different locations?

Alexander Green 8:01

Challenges that I face, I would say now is keeping everybody on the same page. That’s always tough, because you’re managing guests, as well as managing employees, and everyone has different personalities, everyone has a different way that they tick. So for me, the challenging part is, you know, knowing my audience, knowing how to communicate with them, knowing you know, who’s accessible, who’s not knowing who’s to go to and who’s not, and, you know, having those tough conversations of, you know, saying, Hey, I pick this person to do this, because, you know, their drive is a little different. If your drive was focused this way, maybe I’d have to do this and the exact opposite. You know, maybe I’ll take someone and say, Hey, I’m taking them, because I want to teach them I want them to learn and, you know, putting people in uncomfortable situations, helps them to mature and helps them learn. And, you know, for me, it’s you know, it’s challenging, saying, hey, you know, you’re gonna have to make that call of, you know, this guy’s good. This guy’s not. And, you know, you know, cutting the axe, you know, if that’s a way of saying it is just making sure, just making sure that you know, you’re making the right decisions for the business and not

Chad Franzen 9:13

Do you Do you take a different approach for each place in terms of kind of like, setting the culture, you know, I would imagine like a nearly fine dining establishment is different than a pizzeria. Do you take a different approach? And how does that look?

Alexander Green 9:25

Yeah, for sure. So at the pizzeria, we get a lot of kids come home from college, I want to come work. So you know, my average age of employees is about 23-24. Versus the steakhouse of these guys, they have homes, they have families, they have bills. They’re a little older, some of them you know, much older than me. So it’s a level of respect that comes you know, with those guys because they’re there for different reasons. They’re there to feed their family versus, you know, my college guys were there to you know, get some drinking money and go hang out. So So it’s knowing, hey, you know, I have to be a little bit more fun and hip with them. And with my older crowd, it’s a lot more respectable and, you know, letting them know, I understand what you’re doing, I understand why you’re here, and I’m here to help you.

Chad Franzen 9:59

So how has COVID impacted or changed the way you guys do business at each location?

Alexander Green 10:20

Um, I’ll tell you, honestly, once we were shut down, and we got, we came out of it, we came out on top, which is great, a lot of restaurants didn’t, I learned that the most important thing was, in restaurants, we don’t seem to have a lot of how do I say, family time, we spend most of our time here in the restaurant. And I, I’ve wanted to focus with a quality of life. So we added a manager at both locations, to kind of take the load off of everything that was happening via COVID. Because it was manager and myself. And here we are, we’re on the floor, we’re washing dishes, we’re mopping we’re in a bunch of different places, due to staffing and a, you know, a bunch of different other things. So when people were walking in the door to try to get jobs, we didn’t even have the time to sit down and interview them, you know, and then process their paperwork, and all these things. So adding managers added some quality to our life, even though it’s going to chop down the bottom line a little bit. I think, you know, COVID taught, you know, a lot of us that life is important, and families are important and having your time to, you know, focus is great. And I’ve noticed, since we’ve done that we’ve performed even better than we were in 2019 for 2021. And I also saw that, you know, I was having guys that were coming in fresh, they were coming in rested, versus, you know, working five 12 hour shifts, we cut that back, you know, a little bit to where, you know, if it was slow, and it was nothing going on, you know, I was sending my guys home, versus just keeping them for the sake of payroll. When, when it gets going, everybody knows, hey, all hands end. But when it’s not, you know, let’s go home and enjoy the reason that we’re really here. So I say COVID impacted us that way. From a business standpoint, we were creative, we did. We jarred up our sauces, we made pizza kits to take home, we did virtual classes to teach people how to make cocktails, we were just super engaging in a lot of different things. Because I think just one thing wasn’t gonna break the bank, a pizza kits, not everyone’s gonna get it. But if I laid out five or six different things, and was able to get 10 things from everywhere, that generates sales. So we just learned to be different and to, you know, try to adapt to the times and adapt to what was going on. And when it was time to open up. Like I said, we all put aprons on, we were able to retrain, we were able to get new staff, we were able to find new people. So we were able to change the culture a little bit because restaurants aren’t built to stop and start, as we know, you know, so we had to stop and start twice. So the last time we started, we knew Hey, this will probably be us going and not having to shut down again. So we were diligent in our staffing, and our menu development. And when it was slow, instead of just hanging around, we were working on new menu ideas, you know what’s gonna happen, when it opens up, that opens back up? What’s the world gonna look like? So COVID impacted us in a positive way. Unfortunately, not through sales. But through a core in a family. We learned a lot, and we studied a lot. And we’re able to see that success. Now that we are opened back up, I’ll take yesterday being Valentine’s Day at Fiorella. We never did a prefix menu before. And we decided, hey, we’re going to do this $55 prefix menu for Valentine’s Day. And on a cold 20 degree, Monday night in the harbor, when you’re right on the water, no one really comes down here on a Monday, but we were able to get 150 covers last night. And you know, that’s just us being different and learning, you know, hey, instead of just being the pizza place for the night, let’s be this really nice place for the night. So I was able to bring some elements from all the restaurant down here and our younger kids, it was funny to see them kind of bowing to the customers and carrying plates. Because the culture was different and they recognized it so yeah, I think it was you know, it’s pretty cool watching the culture shift and watching us, you know, continue to learn and be sponges

Chad Franzen 14:37

In your 25 years in the restaurant industry. You had did you have jobs that were specific specifically geared toward food preparation?

Alexander Green 14:45

Yes, I worked with worked with Woody’s I ended up being a dishwasher. I ended up going to be a grill cook. It was a big open pit barbecue so far. Real. So I learned that I learned a food prep back of the house, I worked for Chili’s for four or five years, that was fun in the height of that in the 90s, when it was just 90s 2000s. Everyone loved those little Chili’s Applebee’s kind of places. So in training for that, I worked in a store where we were emoti trainers, and we trained all the managers coming through that company. So at that time, you had to learn front and back of the house. So I had to learn front and back of the house, I ended up being behind the bar for a long, long time there and then going to DC and working in some bars before eventually leaving food and getting more into the beverage side of things. From that. When I started with this company, excuse me, I had both I had food and I had beverage knowledge and I knew numbers from a management standpoint, so all the stars kind of connected, you know, so

Chad Franzen 15:56

has, has two questions regarding that has that experience both being kind of behind the bar and doing food prep, has that helped you relate to me basically done everything has that helped you be a better leader in terms of you know, dealing with every kind of employee that you guys have? I know

Alexander Green 16:13

for sure. Because I know where they come from, I understand what that culture is like. And I tell them, you know, on your Monday, Tuesday, when it’s nothing going on, it can be frustrating, especially now during the times, even though we’re you know, on our way out of it. To be conscious with your money to understand that when it’s there, put your best foot forward. And when it’s not there, put your even better foot forward, because you’re not going to have as many tables, but then you’ll have the opportunity to give just amazing service. So I hope that Does that answer your question? Yeah, definitely,

Chad Franzen 16:48

definitely. And then how does that help you in terms of menu development you’ve talked about, that’s kind of one of the things that you do.

Alexander Green 16:55

menu development is great, because I’ve worked in some, I’ve worked in a margarita bar, I’ve worked in an Asian place, I’ve worked downtown bar, and etc. Now I’m an Italian. And I love to eat. So my family dinners and ethnicities there. So it’s cool, because, you know, we go out now for, you know, research and development. And we’ll go to a Michelin star one and see what they’re doing. Then we’ll go to the dive bar down the street and see what they’re doing. You know, it’s you can get you get little things from, you know, the strangest places in this industry. And you say, Oh, why do you guys do that? Oh, we’ve been doing this for 20 years, and the guests love and you learn something, you know, and we’re in a Michelin star restaurant is like, Oh, they gave us this cool little note thing. You know, for your birthday. I was like, Oh, that’s cool. Let’s try it and see if it works. You know, my owner likes to say the greatest artists, they don’t create a steal, and they make it better. So I think we do a good job stealing and fitting into what we do. So I’ve learned to go out and steal and you know, I don’t necessarily mean directly steal, but to steal ideas to you know, take things and, you know, look at them and see why people do them. And, again, just be that sponge and just you know to learn.

Chad Franzen 18:13

Sure, sure. One more question for you. But first, how can people find out more about both locations? You have their ad in National Harbor?

Alexander Green 18:22

Yeah, they can go to our websites Fiorella, Those are our websites there. People can always reach out to me You can always shoot me an email if you got any questions or if you want to come by for dinner. But our websites it all as well as our Instagrams. Both handles are available through our websites. You can see what we’re doing where we’re cooking up and leave a follow leave a like telephone and come down to the harbour enjoy the wheel the sunshine and cold drinks a lot of fun.

Chad Franzen 18:59

Sounds great. Last question. Out of the two. What if you were just if you were to have your perfect meal between the two places, what would it be?

Alexander Green 19:09

Okay, so that’s a tough question because I’m a pizza guy. I love pizza. And brick oven pizza is probably one of my favorite things. So if you catch me on Friday, I’ll probably eat pizza. You catch me on Saturday. I’ll definitely go for the steak and potatoes. So you’re gonna back in the corner. It’s probably going to be pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza? I think everyone does

Chad Franzen 19:32

of course. Hey, thanks so much for joining me today. Alexander has been great talking to you. Appreciate your time. Yeah, thank you. Hello, everybody.

Outro 19:39

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