Seeing Red: A Look at Management and Hospitality

By: Cyndi Amaya

Today for Seeing Red, we finally get a look at the staff that helps run Red Rooster. We caught up with Red Rooster Service Manager, Peter Crippen, for a sneak peek into managing the restaurant and how he got into the field of hospitality. You'll be surprised as to what he thought his calling was before the food industry.

I see you wear a lot of hats for managing Red Rooster, but what's your main job here?

I am the Service Manager. I oversee all service staff: the busers, food runners, and servers, as well as the hosts and hostesses; and I make sure that they are providing the high quality service that is expected of them.

I started in the middle of January this year, a little after it opened. It was a big transition for the Rooster right around January. Our other manager Therese came on at the end of December and Christian, our Bar Director started a week after I did. So we all really got to come on as a brand new team and got to know each other.

What is that like- to help manage a newly opened restaurant?

Well, like I always say, when a restaurant first opens, a whole team is hired. After about 3-4 months, 50% of that team is gone, whether it's management or kitchen, doesn't matter. When you get to about the 6 to 8 month after its opening, you only have about 25% of that team still with you; and those 25% are your core players. Those are the people that will really help the restaurant grow. So I was lucky enough to be here and really rough it out with the rest of the staff of Red Rooster and we've had some great successes in regards to staff.

What kind of successes?

We've had some busers that have been promoted to food runners and likewise food runners that have moved up to servers, and even some busers that were promoted straight to servers. We've had a success rate with that and the idea that you can take in an employee and they have the mobility to move up is great. It's nice to give your hard working staff the opportunity to get promoted, where in some restaurants you can't. It's encouraging and I always tell my staff that if they are dedicated and work hard there's a great chance that we'll give you a chance to move up.

How did you get into the hospitality industry?

I actually got into the hospitality industry by mistake. I was a corporate pilot for 10 years and I loved flying but as a corporate pilot you have a lot of free time while you waited for your clients to finish their events or meetings. It became boring after a while. I then got into acting. I mainly did my acting during the summer. It involved me going away somewhere and working for a theater. Then I started working for a restaurant and I really started to enjoy my first restaurant job in the city and it gave me a glimpse of what it was to sort of direct people because when you were there for a while you started to take on more responsibilities.

When I left that job, I went to another restaurant and after being there for 6 months I was asked if I wanted to become a manager. And they did this for two reasons, one to see if I could be a good manager and two, they knew the restaurant was closing so they didn't want to hire someone new for that position since it was closing soon. The silver lining to that was that although the restaurant did close, I went on to my next management job where I stayed for 4 years and finished there as general manager and equity partner, where you're able to buy into the restaurant. So it all worked out in the end.

What are some hobbies you enjoy when you're not here?

Well, my wife and I have a one-year-old, Rex, so all of my current hobbies are non-existent. But when I did have some free time I would enjoy going fly fishing and I also use to garden with a friend. He had a huge plot of land where we planted dozens of vegetables and plants. I think when I retire I want to be a gentleman farmer.

A gentleman farmer? Is that when you farm with a petticoat and top hat?

Yeah! It's all about what you wear. Haha! No, it's when you farm not out of necessity, you may not even make money off of it, perhaps you just break even or may even lose some money from it; but it's mainly out of enjoyment.

Photos: Cyndi Amaya

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