By Dr. Christopher Leo
I remember having a conversation with my family over a Sunday feast about how our business, Amelia’s Italian Restaurant, stuck around for 35 years and became one of Central Florida’s most successful restaurants.
I was working on completing my General Business major in UCF’s College of Business and at the time thought the answer was simple. We had the best calzones in town! Amelia’s was “Famous for Calzones,” so naturally, this is what made us successful. Or so I thought at the time. My older brother, Mimmo, said it wasn’t just our delicious food.
We had a prime location, near the busy intersection of Hwy 436 and 17-92. My cousin Danny said it wasn’t just the location. There weren’t enough parking spots and traffic moved quickly down the highway.
My cousin Joey said it was the family-themed atmosphere. Nope, couldn’t be just that.
Then mom spoke up.
“It is the family,” she said. She meant our staff of managers, cooks, dishwashers, hostesses, servers, and the like. We all looked at each other thinking she’s right.
It is not easy finding the right people to work at a restaurant. In the early days, there was a lot of turnover. We learned we had to be picky. It was not enough to hire solely for skill. To be the best, we had to be the best. Looking back I realize our best employees, from dishwashers to Chef Dad, were people who fit one or more of the following types: