Jim Parker co-owns Red Hat on the River with his wife, Mary Beth Dooley. He left a very successful, 25-year career in the movie and film production business in 2003 on a whim to start a small bistro in Irvington, NY. Eight years later, Jim and Mary Beth are at their restaurant seven days per week, and they make the hard work and passion they pour into it look easy to the many guests they serve every day. Red Hat has established itself as an institution, so much so that people have been known to take the 30-minute train ride from Manhattan to dine there. The Clintons have even visited – twice.
During his interview for our book, Restaurant Owners Uncorked, Jim told me that when he started, he knew nothing about restaurants, and he learned as he went. Here’s what he said he has learned about how to hire the right people for his team:
“When people walk in here looking to work with us, I worry more about their personality, and their integrity, and their charm. And I don’t really care if they can do the job or not. At least not initially.
I have to make sure that whoever every single customer deals with – whether it be a busboy, a floor runner, the food runner, a host, etc. – has to be engaging, and has to care about that person being in our space. Life is too short. The person’s dining experience is too important. I can’t afford to have people who have another agenda.
I also want everybody to have another life, so they become an interesting person to be around. We have a lot of interesting, curious people that work here. If I had to put it in to a couple of words, I like having curious people around me.”
Jim has low turnover, happy customers, and a successful restaurant, so it seems to me like he’s onto something with his hiring philosophies. If you’d like to learn more tips and practical advice more from him and nineteen other owners who’ve proven they have what it takes, grab a copy of our book on Amazon – paperback ($14.99) or Kindle version $9.99).