Let me begin by saying what an honor and a privilege it is to be a part of the H5H family! I thank Bobby Pancake, Steve Wheat, Mark Trewartha, and Narissa Watts for giving me this opportunity.
Catering to the needs of others has always come naturally for me. I am truly happiest when in the service of my fellow man/woman. Which is why I chose a life and career in the restaurant world.
My journey in the restaurant industry began 25 years ago as a busboy at Lathrop’s on Central in Phoenix, AZ. It was there I learned hot glasses and ice water make for a precarious situation! I remember one night, I dropped an entire tray of water glasses on a prominent local politician! Ms. Lathrop eventually closed her doors, but I learned valuable lessons that stayed with me all my life.
Fast forward to 2006: I bought a one way train ticket from Flagstaff, AZ. to Chicago with nothing more than a rucksack of clothes, a guitar on my back and $350 in my pocket. Over the next ten years, I had the privilege to work next to some of the most talented chefs and restaurant owners Chicago had to offer such as Iron Chef Takashi Yagihashi at Takashi’s Japanese and French Fusion restaurant, and Top Chef Beverly Kim at Bonsoiree 2. My best memories come from the years spent working with Chef Chinnen Thompson at his Michelin Star restaurant, Bonsoiree 1, located in Chicago’s Logan Square.
It was during this time that I became intoxicated by the beauty and simple purity of a well crafted cocktail and the hypnotizing effect of the clear handcrafted ice. I watched and worked with some of the most talented mixologists of Chicago and challenged myself to one day create a cocktail program to be proud of.
I draw my inspiration from the women in my life: my partner, Rachel, Doctor of Sport Psychology at the University of Delaware, is the rock upon which I stand. She is my sun, moon and stars; my mom, Dondea, who raised seven children and is a survivor of cancer who taught me how to box; and my sister Angie, who while working two jobs, managed to complete a masters degree and raise three amazing boys on her own. Angie has always been that person in my life I can turn to for counsel and perspective. It was because of these powerful, beautiful women that I found the inspiration and support to return to university to complete, in 2015, my B.A. in anthropology (the study of human behavior) and just this year my Masters in Hospitality Business Management from the University of Delaware.
I chose High 5 Hospitality because of the powerful leadership, community involvement and clearly defined growth and mission. I couldn’t imagine working for anyone else! I look forward to marching ahead into a future that is bright and limitless for this company!
My vision/approach to managing Limestone BBQ & Bourbon mirrors that of my approach to building a well-crafted cocktail. The physical scape is my glass which I carefully choose for aesthetics and to accommodate volume. The employees and the service they provide are my ingredients and the exceptional food is like the clear handcrafted ice we make while the ambiance is the intoxicating aroma that soothes and comforts. I just can’t get enough!
I would like to say thank you all for your support and for taking the time to read my story.
If you will indulge me further,r I will end by paraphrasing President Theodore Roosevelt who said, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood: who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in the worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither victory nor defeat.”
Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to seeing you all real soon for some great BBQ and true southern hospitality!