Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rewarding careers abound in Louisiana's restaurant industry

It takes a lot of manpower to run a restaurant and nearly 200,000 individuals to run the 16,000 eating and drinking places in Louisiana. Last year alone as the country was coming out the Great Recession, Louisiana’s restaurants were the only non-farm sector to add positions. By 2022, we’ll add a whopping 17,400, just 500 folks shy of a Hornets sell out game.

We recognize that our employees are the backbone of our business and without them, we couldn’t serve well over a million meals every day. The restaurant industry is the largest private sector employer in Louisiana and these aren’t just jobs we’re talking about—many are careers.
Leslie Thornton began her career with
Acme Oyster House as a cashier. Seventeen
years later, she has worked her way up
to the position General Manager and invests
a large portion of her time to helping her
team members reach their career potential.
On her way to becoming a Restaurant Legend is Acme Oyster House’s Leslie Thornton. Seventeen years ago, Thornton started with Acme as a cashier. Now, Thornton is the General Manager of the highest grossing Acme location in the French Quarter, where visitors are known to wait in lengthy lines for the shucked oysters, fried seafood and stellar customer service culture.
“I’ve enjoyed my years at Acme and I’m extremely grateful that my manager saw something in me and invested in my professional development,” said Thornton. “Running a restaurant is really hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun. I love working with my staff and working with them to identify what it is they are most passionate about.”

Thornton works with her team members to help them discover where their love lies within the restaurant. She said some individuals just want to bartend or be an oyster shucker, while another may be interested in becoming a supervisor or manager.
In 2006, the Louisiana Restaurant Association introduced its Restaurant Legends program to recognize the long-term dedicated individuals who have more than 20 years of service at one establishment. To date, nearly 200 individuals have been deemed a “Restaurant Legend,” including several of Acme’s oyster shuckers like “Hollywood," and collectively these individuals have more than 4,000 years of industry experience. That equates to 48,000 months, 1.49 million days and 35 million hours.
Betty Davis receives her Louisiana Restaurant Legend
award for her 26 years of service to LaPlace Frostop.
“We hope to encourage younger individuals to follow the examples that each of these special men and women have set for the industry,” said Stan Harris, President/CEO of the LRA. “It is more than evident that there are restaurants in Louisiana that foster a sense of pride among their staff, promote from within and stress the importance of positions within the industry.”

Terry Toler, owner of the Frostop in LaPlace nominated Betty Davis earlier this year for a Restaurant Legend Award. Davis has been employed by LaPlace Frostop since 1986 and currently she is the restaurant’s head cook.

“Betty's positive attitude, hard work, and dedication have not only made her a valued employee but she is truly a part of our family,” said Toler.
Dewayne Simmons and Dee Crowe proudly show off
their Louisiana Restaurant Legends Awards for their collective
40 years of dedication to Dankin Trail in Monroe.
Also this year, the LRA name five Restaurant Legends that together have more than 100 years of service at Sue’s Country Kitchen in Bossier City. Carrie Lewis, Buford Moyers, Glen Perry, Jerry Perry and Mary Robinson were recognized at the LRA Northwest Chapter Awards Night at the El Dorado Casino.
Recently in April, Dewayne Simmons and Dee Crowe of Dankin Trail in Monroe received their Restaurant Legends plaques at a Northeast Chapter meeting. Both have been with dedicated staff members since 1990!

These individuals are celebrated and receive an award plaque personally and the restaurant receives one to display. The LRA also issues press releases announcing the recipients accomplishment which has garnered great news articles within their area.
To nominate a Restaurant Legend is simple. LRA members are invited to submit the individual’s name and restaurant name, years of service (20 or more at one restaurant location), a photograph and a short description of why the individual should be named a Restaurant Legend. Nominations are accepted year round, submitted online or can be e-mailed to LRA Director of Communications Erica Papillion.

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