Q. How long have you been with Darden and The Capital Grille, and how did you get started?
A. I’ve been with Darden a little more than five years, most of that time with the Seasons 52 restaurant in Naples, FL. I started as a server there and worked every front of the house position including host and trainer. Late last year I moved to The Capital Grille restaurant in Naples as a service professional with the intention of becoming a manager. It happened faster than I expected, and I love my new role as a service manager. I wanted to challenge myself in new ways and become immersed in a new culture at The Capital Grille, under the direction of Managing Partner Will Reynolds. Seasons 52 will always have a piece of my heart, and I owe the brand so much. I was blessed to train under Colleen Dunavan, who was the managing partner at the Seasons 52 restaurant in Naples [now a director of operations] and Seth Kooistra, the current managing partner of the Seasons 52 in Naples. It was a very smooth transition between the two restaurants.
Q. What are the top qualities a manager needs to be successful in the restaurant industry?
A. Leading by example and having passion for what you do are crucial to leading a team. If your team doesn’t believe in the culture, your restaurant will never reach its full potential. Integrity is also important. I learned that from Anthony O’Neill, a Seasons 52 director of operations who was one of the chefs who opened the Seasons 52 restaurant in Naples. I always hear his voice urging, “Kay, do the right thing.” At first I just applied it to my job at Seasons 52, and then I applied it to my management style and subsequently my life. The change I saw was incredible.
Q. Is there one dish at The Capital Grille you can’t resist?
A. I’m a dessert girl, so it’s the Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake.
Q. Where do you go and what do you do to recharge your batteries?
A. I grew up on the water and love the beach. I’m also an avid runner, so running on the beach is the very best thing. I stay busy as a mother of three children ages 6, 3 and 16 months.