Restaurant Unstoppable with Eric Cacciatore

Born and raised in Burlington, VT Will Mcneil is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. After graduation McNeil cooked at various locations before becoming a FOH manager for Hen of the wood in 2006. By 2011 McNeil was offered a partnership by Chef Eric Warnstedt. Fast forward to the current date and the team has scaled their operation to include Hen of the Wood - Burlington, Doc Ponds Eat & Drink in Stowe, and Prohibition Pig just down the street from their original HOTW in Waterbury, VT.

See Episode 625 to hear from Eric Warnstedt.

See Episode 613 with Horst Schulze to learn about the 24 Standards of Service.

Show notes…

Favorite success quote or mantra:

  • Empowering each of our managers to make the right decisions and run the business for us.

In this episode with Will McNeil we will discuss:

  • Building the perfect team to surround you
  • Staff first; customer right behind it
  • Will’s time at CIA
  • Will’s mentors at CIA
  • The most important steps of good service
  • The importance of first and last impressions at FOH
  • Transitioning from Sous Chef to FOH manager
  • Horst Schulte’s 24 Standards of Service
  • Smile while delivering discipline
  • A minimalist approach to aesthetics
  • Cutting down FOH costs
  • Importance of a post-service meeting
  • Partnerships
  • Learning as much as you can about restaurant tech and how it serves you
  • Respect for your partners
  • Partnerships as a marriage
  • What’s behind a name
  • Opening a second restaurant is always the hardest
  • Inward growth

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Knowledge bombs

  1. Which "it factor" habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
    • Work ethic
  2. What is your biggest weakness?
    • To detail-oriented
  3. What's one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
    • Interests outside work/true passion
  4. What's a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
    • Kitchen staffing
  5. Share one code of conduct or behavior you teach your team.
    • Treat everyone on staff as equals
  6. What is one uncommon standard of service you teach your staff?
    • Greet gusts within 2 minutes
  7. What's one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?
  8. What's the one thing you feel restaurateurs don't know well enough or do often enough?
    • Care
  9. What's one piece of technology you've adopted within your four walls restaurant and how has it influence operations?
  10. 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?
    • Staff first
    • Customers have right-of-way in the restaurant
    • Empower managers

Contact info:


Hen of the Wood

Prohibition Pig

Doc Ponds Eat and Drink in Stowe

Thanks for listening!

Thanks so much for joining today! Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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Huge thanks to Will McNeil for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!


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Direct download: 626_Will_McNeil_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT