Hailing from British Columbia, but growing up in Oregon and Seattle, Luke Dirks is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University. Shortly after completing his degree in English and literature, Dirks began his career in hospitality.
In 2007 Dirks joined Stumptown Coffee Roasters as a General Manager and grew into the role of Regional Wholesale Director. Dirk's passion for running restaurants eventually caught back up with him in 2011, when he joined Happy Cooking Hospitality.
In summer of 2015 Dirks moved back to Portland, OR for good to joined forces with Joshua McFadden to form Submarine Hospitality, which acquired ownership of Ava Gene’s restaurant just before opening Tusk. The accolades continue to roll in.
Favorite Success Quote or Mantra.
"No unimportant people."
In this episode with Luke Dirks, we discuss:
- What is meant by having a "no unimportant people" mentality.
- Why being a bus boy/girl is a great way to get started in this industry. You get to see everything from the top and bring it all together.
- Identifying whether you want to be a flash in the pan type restaurant or a long term restaurant and how the effect the way your make decisions.
- Taking a pay cut to be a part of something greater and to learn skills that will ultimately lead to more opportunities.
- How much of Stumptown Coffee Roaster's success was due to their ability to share the story and to develop a brand that resonated with guests.
- How doing the complete opposite of what everyone else is doing can be beneficial.
- When being involved with a 50/50 business partner the importance of having the same vision and goals.
- Stripping away unnecessary formalities; people respond better to authentic communication.
- How you're going to see more partnership in the industry going forward.
- Tips on better time management.
- Being thoughtful about location and foot traffic.
- The challenges of opening a big restaurant VS scalling into a big restaurant
- Considering if a physical space allows for elasticity in labor management.
- Finding a partner that is strong where you're weak.
- Starting a restaurant with an over aching brand.
- How to develop regulars.
- Developing yourself before developing your restaurant.
- Being ok with being the guy behind the scenes.
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Which "it factor" habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
- Being someone who has a great sense of empathy.
What is your biggest weakness?
- Getting excited or distracted too easily
What's one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
- Find interesting people to work for you.
What's a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
- Navigating the issues with labor.
Share one code of conduct or behavior you teach your team.
- Teach your managers that they hold both the highest and lowest position in the restaurant. They might be the boss, but they occasionally got to get dirty to earn the respect from their team.
What is one uncommon standard of service you teach your staff?
- Locally sourced aggressively seasonal.
Share an online resource or tool.
- How I Built This.
- RFA Taps.
- Slow Burn
What's one piece of technology you've adopted in your restaurant and how has it influence operations?
If you got the news that you'd be leaving this world tomorrow and all memories of you, your work, and your restaurants would be lost with your departure with the exception of 3 pieces of wisdom you could leave behind for the good of humanity, what would they be?
- No unimportant people.
- Sticking to a local supply chain.
- Have fun.
Thanks for Listening!
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Huge thanks to Luke Dirks for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!
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