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Posted September 29, 2015 by Zenreach

Off the Clock: Quinn McKenna from Ozumo Concepts International

 

Zenreach works for you, even when you’re off the clock. Our “Off the Clock” interview series examines exactly what restaurateurs and restaurant professionals do with their newly found free time.

Today, we’re talking with Quinn McKenna. Quinn is the Chief Operating Officer of Ozumo Concepts International in San Francisco, California.

Tell me about yourself. How’d you get where you are today?

I grew up in Williamsburg, VA. It’s a great place. Obviously, there’s a healthy tourist element to the economy there, so everyone I knew worked in the service industry, and I started working in a restaurant when I was 13. I didn’t think about it as a career option until I graduated from college. After graduation, when I was supposed to be getting graduate school applications together, I started working more. I kept getting promoted and taking on more responsibility, and with each step up the ladder, the job got more interesting, and by the time I was the general manager, I was hooked. I really enjoyed it, and I decided that was the right career path for me.

“I kept getting promoted and taking on more responsibility, and with each step up the ladder, the job got more interesting, and by the time I was the general manager, I was hooked.”

And if you don’t mind me asking, what were you studying in school at the time?

English major, and my aspiration was to go back to school and get an MFA in creative writing.

Are you still writing?

I do it all the time. It’s funny: a lot of people would look at an English degree and not think it has a great relevance to business. But being an effective communicator is critical to being in an organization.

What do you eat when you’re not in the restaurant?

I eat the normal stuff–I love pizza–and I cook a lot at home. I do the cooking in our house. If it comes to making a cake or cookies or something like that, I let my wife do it, but anything savory I do. I tend to be kind of experimental. I’m that guy who wants to cure my own olives and make bacon at home.

Any recent endeavors you want to share with us?

I did build a smokehouse in my backyard. And I made brandied cherries over the weekend, so I can make a proper Manhattan.

If you weren’t in the restaurant industry, what would you be doing?

I’ve always been fascinated by boats. I was a collegiate sailor, and when I got out of school, I worked as a charter guide in Florida and the Bahamas. If I didn’t have to make any money, and I didn’t have a family, I’d probably be knocking around on a sailboat somewhere. Well, it’s probably a kind of lonely life, so I’m not looking to make that change.

Who inspires you today in the restaurant world?

I take a lot of inspiration from chefs. The work ethic and commitment to excellence the top chefs in our business have is amazing. They understand that the results you achieve today are not necessarily the results of the work you do today. I’m not as young as I once was, so I also admire chefs who are in round two so to speak–people like Michael Chiarello, who I’ve known for a long time. I remember when he was the young turk at Tra Vigne in Napa and he went through some challenges, and now he’s once again very successful with his new restaurant.

“They understand that the results you achieve today are not necessarily the results of the work you do today.”

How has technology helped your work life balance?

I’ve always been an early adopter of technology, and I rely on it quite a bit. But now I’m better at balancing the benefits technology can afford you, and the need to step away from it sometimes.

“In the restaurant industry, no one tells you that you’ve worked long enough and that you should come home now.”

In the restaurant industry, no one tells you that you’ve worked long enough and that you should come home now. We don’t have the kind of job where people can say, “Well Bill, it’s five o’clock now, so take this pile of work and set it aside for tomorrow.” We can’t always do that, and we certainly can’t do that with customers. So technology helps.

Thanks for stopping by the Zenreach blog, Quinn! We really appreciate you spending some of your “off the clock” time with us.

Image used from: http://www.ozumosanfrancisco.com/mobile/


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