As managing partner of The Capital Grille restaurant in Sarasota, FL, I have been given many opportunities to help strengthen my community. These endeavors are an honor, and I take them seriously. My life, too, has been enriched through my efforts to enrich the lives of others.
I’m most excited about the new DeSoto Boys & Girls Club that will open with great fanfare later this month in Bradenton. After connecting with a guest who served on its board, I volunteered to join him in helping raise $7.8 million to replace the old club, which was 50 years old. My first experience at a Boys & Girls Club was during a Christmas party where holiday gifts were handed out. It sparked emotions as I remembered that when I was a child, my favorite gifts were beneath a tree, yet many of these children did not have a tree or gifts at home.
I saw firsthand the need for updated facilities in the clubs throughout Manatee County — there wasn’t a kitchen where Executive Chef Partner Kendell Emmanuel and I could work alongside the kids and teach them about food. The new DeSoto Boys & Girls Club will feature a beautiful commercial kitchen for which we secured an anonymous donation of $100,000.
On Oct. 17, as we celebrate five years of The Capital Grille serving our community, we will serve food alongside Olive Garden, Seasons 52 and LongHorn Steakhouse at the new DeSoto Boys & Girls Club out of their brand new kitchen to celebrate the club’s opening and the impact it will have on our community.
I also serve on the board at Manatee Technical College in Bradenton, where I visit and speak with students about career opportunities in the restaurant business. It was in those board meetings that I first realized the important role community leaders can play in the lives of young people — and that I needed to stop believing that someone else would do the work if I did not.
None of this would have happened without the leadership skills I’ve learned throughout my nearly 12-year career with Darden. As leaders, we get to touch the lives of our guests and team members every day as we create memorable experiences. The strong values of Darden and The Capital Grille have inspired me to do my part to make other people’s lives a little better. Providing a better place for our youth to learn and network after school with mentors from our community gives us all a better shot at growing old in a community we admire.