We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Nicholas Doyle. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Nicholas below.
Nicholas, appreciate you joining us today. Can you tell us about a time where you or your team really helped a customer get an amazing result?
When my business partners and I opened Nick’s we wanted it to feel like the neighborhood Italian restaurants we grew up with in Illinois, Massachusetts and New York. Three Irish guys who loved going to Italian joints with our families. Our menu consisted of classic Italian/American dishes. When we were discussing the concept the first two items on the menu were chicken parmesan and Budweiser on tap. I’ve heard it numerous times that my food will remind a guest of a restaurant back home in New Jersey or something their mom use to make. But the most memorable one was when a woman who was enjoying the lasagna and wanted to talk to me. She said that her mother made the best lasagna and that she had just passed away recently and that my lasagna was the closest thing she has ever had to her mothers and she started to cry. I got a little choked up to and I realized that’s why people go out to eat. To create a new memory from their old memories. To sit and relax and have a great dinner and that’s what my staff and I try to do with every guest every day.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
I stumbled into the restaurant business as a 19 year old kid in Vail. I liked the people, the energy, the sounds of a restaurant. I liked talking to the guests and the camaraderie with your co-workers. I wanted to be a teacher and coach when I grew up and I still get to do that every day in the restaurant business. I tell my staff that their job description is quite simple. Guests ask you for things and you are happy to get it for them. Simple as that. My restaurant has great reviews and I have a great staff. Guests tell me often I have the best food in town. I’m proud of that. I work really hard to make sure people have a great experience. On that note if you are unhappy with a dining experience talk to the manager or owner while you are there. Writing a review later on a Google or Yelp platform doesn’t do the establishment any good. Let us know what the problem is so we can correct the issue for you NOW while you are at the restaurant.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
The pandemic delivered a huge blow to the restaurant industry. The past two plus years have been incredibly stressful. Not knowing if I’d close, file for bankruptcy or even lose my house. The government really stepped up and saved our asses and that is why my doors are still open. During this time I realized how to operate differently. Cut costs and become more profitable. Reduce the size of my menu to cut costs as well. We are still down in sales and hiring is a very big problem but I am optimistic for the first time in a few years. I use to have a GM, a manager and a few supervisors. Now it’s just me and I have one supervisor. Working 60 plus hours a week is normal right now and it’s what I have to do to stay open.
Do you have any insights you can share related to maintaining high team morale?
Treat them like a valued employee. They must know what your expectations are. Let them know when they’ve done a great job. Thank them. Deliver real time feedback when you need to let them know they are not doing something right. Document everything. In my business my staff are representing me. If and when someone isn’t representing me how I’d like I have to let them know. Write them up. Give warnings, final warnings when necessary. For the most part when I need to fire an employee it generally means I am getting rid of a problem and the fewer problems I have the better the place will operate. I have always been a big culture guy creating a place where my staff like to work and feel appreciated and over the years a lot of employees have told me that I have been a great boss.
- Website: www.nicksfc.com
- Instagram: nicksitalian
- Facebook: Nicks Italian
Photos by Andy Ryan