I remember my first day with Greenleaf Hospitality Group, outlet – Zazios Kalamazoo; I was 19 years old and had not a care in the world besides completing my college degree. If you would have stopped that 19 year old girl in the lobby of the Radisson hotel and asked her where she saw herself in seven years, I assure you the answer would have been quite different from where she is today.
I started working as a hostess for Zazios Kalamazoo in the fall of 2006. I was thrilled to be a part of something so special and unique. I was excited about the way Greenleaf Hospitality adapted the ‘Yes I Can’ attitude towards their guests and how eager they were to accommodate both their internal and external guests. I learned so much from Zazios Kalamazoo. I learned how to appreciate the fine cuisine that my father always encouraged me to try, but I never would. Scallops, mussels, rapini (it’s terrible don’t try it,) brussel sprouts, radish, beets, veal, prosciutto, pork belly, lamb, duck, the list goes on… Zazios opened my eyes to the wonders of many exotic foods that I used to snub my young, undeveloped palate to before joining their team.
It was here at Zazios that I met many of my best friends, including Shawdy Moaiery whose start date was just a day before mine – November 28th, 2006. We attended all of our human resources training classes together and have been friends ever since. I also met many others through the years, Kristin Mantila Brown and Jess Southerland (Armstrong) both of whom I still meet almost once a week for a girl’s date. It was also here that I met my incredible boyfriend, Alec Durocher, whom I’ve been dating for over three years and we are planning our futures together. It would be hard for me to say that I could imagine my life without these amazing people who have helped shaped the person that I am today. So it is safe to say that Zazios Kalamazoo will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Upon completion of my degree from Western Michigan University, I wore a duel cap; working days at a local school as a Paraprofessional and nights as a server at Zazios. When the elementary school year ended, we were in the process of opening Zazios Birmingham in 2010. I decided (because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life…to apply to graduate school or not to apply to graduate school,) that it would be worth life experience to move to Detroit, MI. It was here as a bartender/server that I learned so much about life, love, and what I wanted for my future. I also met another acquaintance, Allie Tucker, who will forever be a life long friend.
It was in the fall of 2012 that Alec and I moved back to Kalamazoo and I was extended the hand of Stefan Johnson as my future mentor – an experienced and trusted adviser, who was much more than a boss. Stefan had faith in who I was as an individual; he saw the promise in me and gave me a chance at a career with Greenleaf Hospitality. Sure he “made me” host, serve, and bartend before I took on the role as Event Coordinator, turned Restaurant Supervisor of Webster’s Prime, but he also invested in me. He helped mature my many talents and strengths and learn how to develop them for a future career path.
Webster’s Prime is where I really got my feet wet in hopes for a future career path in food and beverage. I met so many wonderful people from all different walks of life. Some guests I met through corporate or private events, some through sharing in their special days – wedding ceremonies, rehearsal dinners, and receptions, some were entertainers that I booked to play in our Tasting Room, and some were frequent dinners in our restaurant who were just looking for a great dining experience. It is these people who make working in food and beverage such a reward. I will miss many of them deeply and will hope that our paths cross once again in life.
Aside from all of our sensational guests here at Webster’s Prime, it is the brilliant people that I had the privilege of working with every day who will be greatly missed as well. You don’t always get to see all that goes into running a successful and unique restaurant. For example we meet with our marketing department every Tuesday, our food and beverage department every third Wednesday of the month, and our all staff meeting is held every month as well. All staff includes leaders from the sales and catering department, the banquets department, Wings Stadium, Wings West, Rio, Sydney, Blush, front desk, The Wedding Studio, and the list goes on…with a team of 800 people employed here at Greenleaf it’s hard not to miss such a group of wonderful, talented people!
It is for all of these reasons that Webster’s Prime, Zazios, and Greenleaf Hospitality will forever be a part of who I am. When I decided to put in my two weeks and accept my new position with The Hinman Company I had a hard time. It was a challenge to leave the comfort of what this company has provided – friends, support, and potential. However, I know that The Hinman Company will be a new and exciting challenge for me and I am so thrilled to start on April 16th!
So for some parting words –
Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout the last seven years with Greenleaf.
Thank you to our patrons for choosing to dine in such wonderful downtown Kalamazoo restaurants, Webster’s, Zazios, and Old Burdick’s.
Thank you for staying in our distinctive downtown hotel, The Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites.
I look forward to seeing you in the future, at The Hinman Company.
All the best,