My Story – by Nick Connolly

So, the past few weeks I have read the stories of three of our H5H family, and the week prior to that I heard the stories of a few others at the H5H luncheon.  Listening to and reading those stories has definitely made me think of my story and where it has led me to this day. Do I have a story?  Is it interesting?  Does it live up to the stories of others?  I’m sure it doesn’t compare to some but that’s when I realized, it is my story, not theirs.  It doesn’t matter if it lives up to the “hype” of others.  I’ve never been one to have much to say about myself, so this has been quite the challenge to think about and put together.  But, I’ll give it a shot.

I come from a large family. My Dad was always my idol, the one I wanted to be like when I grew up.  He was able to provide for a family of nine and still remain a part of our everyday lives; sports, school, you name it.  Not to take anything away from my Mom.  She is the strongest person I have ever met, mentally, emotionally and physically.  Believe me, we did not make her life easy at times, but she was the one who took care of us all on a daily basis, never giving up or ever complaining, never giving in or showing any sign of weakness or pain.  To this day, she is the one that keeps us all together. I have three brothers and three sisters. If it weren’t for them, I’m sure I wouldn’t be where I am today.  Growing up with six siblings definitely had its advantages and disadvantages.  From the constant fighting and bickering, to the awesome times that each one of us had with each other at some point or another.  There was always something to do and someone to do it with.  Even to this day, we don’t see each other or keep in touch as often as we should being scattered all over, but you can bet we would each be there for each other at the drop of a hat.  That being said, nothing will compare to the heartbreak we faced together ten years ago when we lost my oldest brother and a short two years later losing my dad.  There isn’t a day that goes by to this day that I don’t think of them both.  So much more I could say about my family and how they have played a major part in how I’ve become the person I am, but we will leave that for the sequel.

Alright, well that got personal enough! I guess we can transition into how I ended up where I am today, sharing my story with all of you. My first job was at a community college as a janitor, even though I felt like I was smarter than most of the people there.  Sometimes I would walk past a classroom and see half an equation on the board and just figure it out.  My best friend is Ben Affleck.  Yeah Yeah, at this point you’re probably thinking this is the plot from Good Will Hunting.  And you would be correct.  Just making sure you’re still with me here.  My first job was as a prep cook/dishwasher at a private country club here in the Salisbury area when I was a junior in high school.  It’s funny, my younger brother had a friend who already worked there.  He called the house one day looking for my brother to tell him they were hiring.  Lucky for me, he wasn’t around and I told him I was interested.  I had been accepted to Johnson & Wales in Norfolk by the end of my senior year but decided to hold off because I thought the money I was making I couldn’t pass up at the time.  Looking back, it probably wasn’t the wisest decision I’ve ever made, but every journey is thrown a few curveballs!  Fast forward a little longer and I ended up spending a total of fifteen years at the Club.  I started out at the bottom in the kitchen and several years later found myself as the Executive Chef/Food and Beverage Manager after working with a bunch of great chefs/managers.  There was always the passion and desire to work with food and to be able to create something out of anything that was put in front of me.  From weddings, golf outings to daily lunch and dinner specials.  Nothing was more satisfying knowing a newly married couple put their trust in you to make their special day an unforgettable one, even if the transformer blew and they may not have had electricity!  True story!

I have always taken pride in my work from the get go. Some would say I am a bit of a perfectionist or have an OCD issue, but I have always looked at things two ways.  It’s either done the right way or it’s done the wrong way, with no middle ground.  I know that’s not the best way to look at things but it’s the way I have been all my life.  I sometimes would work 80+ hours a week at the Club to make sure everything was done the way I saw best.  As one can imagine, this didn’t leave me with much of a personal life or any real life for that matter.  “Work too hard to call my life my own” comes to mind.  It wasn’t until I joined the H5H family that I fully grasped the meaning of being a part of a team and building trust amongst the team around me to help get things done.  One of the many things I’ve learned and enjoyed about working for this group!

Fortunately, for all you still reading at this point, being that I spent fifteen years in one spot there isn’t much more to really share without having you want to push the red X in the top right corner of your screen!  I do really quick want to mention a particular someone I have worked with for numerous years now and have become close friends with and still work with to this day.  I’m not going to get all sappy here, only because I don’t need his head getting that much bigger!  Don’t forget, I still have to work with him on a daily basis.  But, thanks Jeff, for all that you have done for me over the years.  Teacher, mentor and a good friend.  Even though the one-time student has become the teacher!  Just kidding……… Kind of!  Jeff was actually the one who mentioned my name to Mark Ford 5 years ago when the Salisbury BWW location was opening up.  Many thanks to Mark and Bobby for giving me a chance and welcoming me to the H5H family!  It has surely been an awesome ride so far!  Five years later, numerous store awards and a Hospitality Ambassador award under my belt, I look forward to what the future holds for me being a part of this organization!

“Be humble, be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room”

What’s your Story?