Successful New York restaurant owner Jeffrey Zurofsky thinks that too many of today’s college graduates want a quick path to making money — and don’t want to get their hands dirty.
That’s why the co-founder and CEO of growing restaurant chain ‘wichcraft only hires people who are as comfortable talking numbers as they are taking out the trash.
Zurofsky tells Business Insider he makes it very clear to young, ambitious professionals that they’re going to have to get their hands dirty if they want to one day manage his restaurant.
If someone wants to work for him, “the first thing I tell them is: ‘Great. This is a hands-on business,'” he says. “‘You’re going to learn how to be the porter, be the delivery guy, be the cashier, be the cook. If you want to run this place…I have no problem with that ambition, I just think that you need to learn everything.'”
Zurofsky first started working in restaurants because he needed a way to pay for college. He was going to go to law school and eventually become a politician. Instead, his time spent as a lowly line cook inspired him to start his own restaurant in 2003, with business partners Sisha Ortuzar and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio.
Their gourmet sandwich shop, ‘wichcraft, grew to 15 locations in New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. The three partners later opened the restaurant Riverpark and its accompanying urban farm. Zurofsky serves as CEO of each business.
To him, a successful restaurant manager is someone who understands the business from the lowest position to the highest through first-hand experience. Zurfofsky thinks that in this sense, the restaurant business is analogous to the startup business.
A true entrepreneur, he says, is a builder, not just a manager. “The sign of a successful entrepreneur is someone who’s set up the systems, the organisation, and the processes for the business in such a way that he can effectively be removed from it, and it can still operate and run. That is success.”
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