Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

AUG 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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chain profile 66 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • AUGUST 2017 BIG WHISKEY'S IS NOT A BAR A specific type of cuisine — or perhaps a vibe the owners want to create — generally serve as the inspiration for most restaurants. Not Big Whis- key's American Restaurant & Bar. The emerging restaurant chain draws its inspiration from an elderly gentle- man enjoying a drink and telling stories. "My grandfather had a small little restaurant in Lockwood, Mo. It was a farm town," says Paul Sundy, Big Whiskey's co-founder and senior vice president of opera- tions. "He had one customer that would come in and always say, 'I'm only going to have one, so make it a big one.' … He always seemed to have the right thing to say, a joke or a story or maybe a toast. We built our entire concept around this guy's mentality." Headquartered in Springfield, Mo. — about an hour drive from Lockwood — Big Whiskey's displays this mentality in both service and decor. This approach helped the casual- dining chain grow into an eight-unit concept with plans for national (and even international) growth in the works. People First Building a restaurant around a mentality means first finding people that can bring that mentality to life. Friendly, open, engaging: Big Whiskey's looks for those qualities when it hires. "We try to take that next step of engagement, whether it be a joke or a story or a toast. We try to teach our bartend- ers that it's more than just order-taking," says Sundy. Of course, wanting friendly, engaging employees isn't revolutionary. All types of operations, from white tablecloth restaurants to hot dog stands and everything in between, want employees that guests like to be around. Big Whiskey's stands out by designing its hiring practices to make attaining these employees easier. First, each Big Whiskey's restaurant maintains staffing levels that exceed what's typically necessary to run the restaurant, says Matt Caetano, vice president of training and operations. This enables the chain to hire out of want, not need. If a waiter or bartender leaves unexpectedly, having a few extra Despite the name, this casual dining operation doesn't define itself by drink alone, but by good food and engaging employees. By Toby Weber

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