Every one of us strives to answer this question: What do you want to do with your life? We soul-search and plan, but sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. Many Darden managers fell into their foodservice careers — and then fell in love with the work. Meet one of them, Brynn Ward of Eddie V’s.
Q. How long have you been with Darden, and what was your first job with the company?
A. I’ve been with Darden about five years as a bartender. I started at the Bahama Breeze in Brandon, FL, and three months later I transferred to the Eddie V’s restaurant in Tampa, FL. I also train bartenders at new Eddie V’s restaurants. Recently I completed management training and was promoted to beverage manager in Tampa, an exciting opportunity.
Q. What career advice do you wish someone had given you when you were starting out?
A. Follow your gut! I worked my way through college while bartending at Eddie V’s. I had planned to become a lawyer, so bartending was simply a job that would allow me to pay my bills and succeed in college. I earned my bachelor’s degree in political science and public relations, but I didn’t go on to law school because I didn’t feel passionate about that career choice. I went on to earn a master’s degree in mass communications, but I kept asking myself, ‘What am I going to do with my life? I can’t be a bartender forever.’ I loved the job but didn’t think I could turn it into a career. I finally decided to do just that. I told one of my managers, and he put a plan in motion to develop and train me — and now I’m a beverage manager!
Q. What do you like best about your job and Eddie V’s?
A. I love the hospitality industry, the family you build within your restaurant and the connections you make with guests and your community. Our guests become our friends because we build such a great rapport with them. Eddie V’s cares about its people, and that made me want to grow along with the brand and my restaurant because I believed in it. If you don’t believe in your company, you can’t represent it the way you should. With Eddie V’s, it’s easy, not forced.
Q. Is there one Eddie V’s dish you can’t resist?
A. Everything’s phenomenal so it changes depending on what I’m in the mood for, but the Chilean Sea Bass is out of this world. It is steamed over a light soy broth with spinach and ginger. The Tartare of Pacific Ahi Tuna is the freshest, most vibrant tuna I’ve ever had.