“The Employee is My First Customer.” Strategies for Restaurant Success from Legacy Restaurateur

November 29, 2021
Barbara Castiglia


Author, restaurant owner and hospitality industry expert Barry Jessurun discussed his book, life lessons, and tips for restaurant success with Host Barbara Castiglia on The Main Course.

As owner of Green Valley Hospitality, Jessurun has ran four restaurants ranging from fast-casual to higher-end menus to university settings for up to 32 years. While he was one of the lucky restaurant owners to remain in business during the pandemic, Jessurun has learned a lot throughout his many decades in of restaurant life.

Jessurun took these life learnings to write the book “The Drunkard’s Path.” Readers can expect a manual-like, easy read that reviews basic employee and management expectations, the basics to succeed in any industry and how to tie it all into one’s life since there really is no work-life separation. The term ‘drunkard’s path’ refers to a route that an inebriated person may take on the way home from a pub — similarly, careers are usually never a straight, inclined line but more so a zigzagged path.

While the book is intended for audiences of any age, it’s especially useful for students to set a foundation of how to show up in your career. One concept that stands out to Castiglia is self-altruism, of which Jessurun is a big advocate. “To me self-altruism is like ‘I’m doing this because I want to do this because it’s the story I’m trying to create, but it also helps other people around me,’” added Jessurun.

It’s no surprise how Jessurun has maintained four thriving businesses amidst a pandemic and is eager to share his tips for restaurant success. For him, employees are seen as his ‘first customer,’ by focusing on staffing and retaining the best of the best. That starts with finding people who are happy, because teaching hard skills like making a sandwich or bartending is easier.

“The employee is my first customer, and I really need to create a place where they would just rather be,” added Jessurun.

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