I'm always on the lookout for amazing, stand-up leaders — the ones who are in the trenches, doing the tough work of building restaurant concepts, developing in-house talent, and pushing the envelope on expectations.
So a few months ago, I reached out to my LinkedIn network for help in identifying some of the restaurant industry's top leaders — whether those were hourly crew or clear on up through owner-operators. The responses absolutely poured in and there was no shortage of deserving, well-loved, and accomplished leaders. I narrowed the field to just four candidates and interviewed them about their backgrounds, leadership styles, and their words to lead by.
1. Louis Cantu — Founder of Masa Food Truck
Background: A culinary school graduate, Louis started his career bussing tables at Nordstrom's, eventually working his way up to sous chef. Since then he has launched two successful food truck endeavors, held general manager (GM) positions at Hopdoddy Burger Bar and Snooze Eatery, and took on a multi-unit opportunity with FBR Management where culture and teambuilding were his primary objectives. Louis currently operates Masa Food Truck in Austin, Texas.
Leadership: A self-described "servant leader" who learned the art of hospitality from his mom, Louis focuses on improving his own leadership skills each and every day. He believes patience is key as is maintaining a solid commitment to teambuilding, growing relationships, and investing in others through mentoring and development.
Words to lead by: Be hands-on and lead by example.