Rudy Miick began working in the foodservice industry in 1978. Having served as partner of a restaurant at the young age of 24, Rudy’s work has since focused on the successful start-up, performance improvement and growth of restaurants, resorts, and other foodservice operations. Rudy has served on the board and faculty of the UCLA Extension’s Hospitality Management Program for 13 years and remains an active member of the Foodservice Consultants Society International and the Institute of Management Consultants. Outside of his regular consulting work, as founder of the Miick Institute, Rudy coaches others in business and life growth, and is an award-winning author of “The Leadership Cookbook,” a bi-monthly column for both U.S. Business Review and Food & Drink Magazine. He has also co-authored four books and regularly speaks at foodservice industry conferences and events.
FE&S: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the foodservice industry?
Rudy Miick: Everything’s an interview. Be conscious at all times. Good enough isn’t!
FE&S: When traveling for business, what is one of your favorite pastimes?
Rudy Miick: I LOVE to read; planes allow me the best private time I have.
FE&S: Other than your own, name the foodservice company that you admire most and why.
Rudy Miick: Wildflower Bread Company because they’re brand resolute and Nick’s Pizza & Pub in Illinois.
FE&S: Who in the foodservice industry do you admire most?
Rudy Miick: Well, my answer consists of two categories: operators and those foodservice professionals that work behind the scenes. Here are five operators that come to mind:
1) Wolfgang Puck because he paid back every investor he had on time, and paid them first. And because he played and still plays celebrity without getting caught in his own ego; 2) Dave Query, owner of Big Red F because he’s an amazing concept guy who is also very clear about service to his guests, his team, his community and his investors; 3) Louis Basile, single-handedly the clearest brand guy, market consistent person I know; 4) Nick Sarillo for his resolute courage to do what’s right, reach out to community and make a radically consistent product experience; and 5) Greg Christian, another chef of note, who’s leading green technology in operations and educations more effectively than anyone I know of. I also admire consultants Tom Costello, for his care of people and the idea of hospitality; Kathleen Seelye for her commitment to excellence in design; and someone we’ll miss, Alan King, a designer who just got it done on budget, on deadline and with a gentle demeanor .
FE&S: What was your first job in foodservice?
Rudy Miick: My first paying job was when I was 15 years old and working as a dishwasher at Ching Lee Chop Suey in Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii. I worked four days a week, hand-washed lunch and dinner dishes during the dinner shift. They had a three-hole sink that took over 24 hours to drain. You don’t want to know the rest of the story.
FE&S: Knowing what you now know, would you still pursue a career in foodservice?
Rudy Miick: Absolutely. I love the challenges and the demand for excellence, all at a pace radically faster than anything else in business. With the possible exception of film, in my opinion, we are in the most amazing industry in the world. From farmers to manufacturers, designers, operators, and every other role in between, our job is to feed the soul as much as we feed stomachs.
FE&S: If I were just starting out in the foodservice industry, what advice would you give me?
Rudy Miick: Be conscious at all times; learn from every experience and apply your learning in positive ways. Think of things as an interview: first impressions mean a lot.
Click here to read part one of the interview with Rudy Miick.