“Do you have any serving experience?” Yes."
“Great, you’re hired.” It was really that simple.
This answer was the start of landing my dream job - I just didn't know it at the time. I figured this job was just another place to help me pay my bills, but I was wrong.
I started working at The Flight Deck Bar and Grill as a server in 2014 and I absolutely fell in love with the company. The atmosphere created a feeling I’ve never experienced before at a job. I got to interact with all kinds of people (not uncommon in a server position) but my guests had something extra special to talk about: their experience jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Not to mention, happy people tip well.
Some were first-timers, still buzzing on adrenaline after landing. Some were instructors who jumped 15 times per day, and told me all about it over a beer after sunset. Some were licensed jumpers who travel the world with their friends to participate in the sport, the way others might take ski or golf trips. I grew up in the area, and the chance to meet our skydiving guests from all over the world was incredible to me. So many people from so many places were visiting the little town of Rochelle, Illinois. And I got to share in the celebration of an amazing day in life.
I quickly learned that these were my kind of people. While skydiving has never been something I have wanted to do, I absolutely love being able to feel the excitement literally raidating off my guests. They all tell me the same thing: it's an experience like no other.
Fast forward to fall 2016. I love my job just as much as I did when I first started. Yet, I began to notice where improvements could be made around the restaurant. I knew something had to be done but I wasn’t quite sure how to fix it. I was a server, I never felt like “a big deal.” But a day came where I felt like my opinion needed to be heard. So I spoke up. To my surprise, speaking my opinions lead me to a position I’ve dreamed about - a manager at Flight Deck Bar & Grill.
This is a unique business. It's a small town, but our company brings in a lot of big-city guests. The skydiving part of the business is seasonal - so we have to contend with the busiest summer days imaginable and then be creative enough to get people in the door during the winter months. On top of daily restaurant operations, we also run a banquet business. And our Flight Deck team is involved in all of this.
Managing a restaurant on a skydiving dropzone is a job like no other. I wake up excited to go to work every day. Not many people can say they watch people jump out of an airplane every day or spend their 20-minute breaks riding along in the co-pilot seat in a plane flying up a load of skydivers. I've made friends with the jumpers over the years, and they are some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. They even tried to teach me how to pack a parachute.
Most importantly, I’ve watched the fascinating looks on thousands of people's faces as they watch the things I get to see everyday. First time guests are my favorite. Skydiving is a wonderful spectator sport, and I get so excited when I get to tell - better yet show - what my job is all about. And it all started with the simple question “do you have any serving experience?”
Being a restaurant manager isn't easy. It's a tough business, we certainly run into our fair share of challenges on a regular basis. I learn new things every day, and have dedicated myself to trying to make the Flight Deck Bar & Grill the most fun place in the area to dine.
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