My Work in the Private Sector
The restaurant industry has made up the vast majority of my private sector career.
I learned my work ethic as a Newspaper Delivery boy, first for the Suburban News and then for the Columbus Dispatch. I learned the discipline of getting out there day after day. My customers didn’t care if I was sick, or tired. They expected their newspapers by 5pm, and they got them. I also learned the value of persistence, as those were the days when you had to “collect” from each customer. My primary route was in an apartment complex. Some of those folks weren’t always happy to hear “Jeff from the Dispatch – Collecting," on the other side of the door.
Days after getting my driver’s license, my dad got me a job at the 7-UP plant near the airport. I sorted empty glass bottles. It was a hot, dirty, nasty job. I did learn something important from this job. I learned that warehouse work, while honorable, was not for me.
I moved on to become a Busboy at Little Turtle Country Club, working there my Junior and Senior years in High School. I was bitten by the food service bug. I headed off to college with the title “Head Bus Boy” – my first promotion!
I paid my own way through college, working at Kinko’s as a salesman during the school year and at Rappallo's, an Italian restaurant at The Continent in north Columbus. I worked at the restaurant through summers, winter breaks, spring breaks, and weekends when I could get back. I started as a waiter, learned how to work the kitchen, eventually becoming a shift manager, then kitchen manager, then general manager. I learned so much there from my mentors, Frank Carsonie and John Choppa, remaining indebted to those men to this day.
I took a two-year sabbatical from the industry while living in Chicago – working for a Fortune 100 company that was a part of the Nielsen Marketing Research family.
Returning to Columbus in 1992, I began a 21-year run with Steak Escape, a mall food court-based, cheesesteak concept that we took from 60+ restaurants when I started, to over 250 in its best days. Starting as a Regional Field Consultant, within two years I was named Director of Operations and two years later I was named Vice President of Operations, overseeing many aspects of the business, including franchise relations. I was VP of Operations for 14 years. Then I transitioned into franchise sales, working as the Vice President of Franchise Development for my last four years there. Ken Smith and Mark Turner provided me with amazing opportunities to learn and grow during my time at Steak Escape, and I remain in their debt as well.
Feeling a need for change, I moved into the food service distribution world in 2013, joining Avalon Foodservice as the Vice President of Business Development, and two years later was named Vice President of Sales and Marketing, overseeing the entire sales, marketing, and customer service aspects of the business. Owner Andy Schroer took a chance on me there, and I feel fortunate to have repaid his faith in me with positive results. During this time, I joined the Board of the ORA.
Today I work for a Hillard-based foodservice distributor called RDP Foodservice. I began there last May and am having a great time, and aleady seeing some great success.
During my professional career, I have been afforded great opportunities, and I have learned a great deal from each of them. Every experience over the past 42 years has made me who I am today, preparing me in ways large and small to take on the responsibilities of a County Commissioner.