What drives the nation’s top foodservice operators? We asked the 2017 Silver Plate Class a few questions to get the inside scoop. Find out what they had to say about career accomplishments and what it means to be part of a legendary group of operators.
Chris Newcomb, Co-founder, President & CEO of Newk’s Eatery, received the 2017 Silver Plate Award in the Chain Limited Service category. Nominated by Wenner Bakery.
What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?
Being able to make a difference in someone’s life is most rewarding for me. We, the foodservice industry, are in a very unique position to help others form their career path and/or at the very least help to set them on a path to where they can accomplish their own goals. Being able to touch someone’s life, have them become a part of your family, to see them grow just as you, yourself, are growing in your own personal journey. You see, it is not just the ones we think we are helping that grow, we also grow as an individual.
Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.
I would have to say one of my biggest accomplishments is that I was not only blessed to have been a large part of the McAlister’s success story; but, I was also able to start over again with Newk’s Eatery. It is not that often that you get one big bite of the Apple. With Newk’s Eatery, I was able to get another shot at a big bite of the Apple. Newk’s Eatery has allowed me to take everything that I learned from McAlister’s and apply different thoughts and techniques to develop a culinary driven concept that has broken new barriers just as McAlister’s did in 1989.
I would be remiss if I did not mention what I believe to also be a career accomplishment and that is the founding of Newk’s Cares with my wife. Lori was diagnosed with Stage IIIc Ovarian Cancer in 2013. We had no idea what Ovarian Cancer is / was nor did we recognize the signs of Ovarian Cancer. Lori began to really study this disease and share the early warning signs with other women. To bring more awareness to the signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer, we decided to form the Newk’s Cares charitable foundation. Through our tireless dedication and work we have raised over $500,000 in just three years. We have been very blessed to hear from women all over America that Lori’s Story has made a difference in their life. I am very proud of my wife and the Newk’s Cares team for this endeavor.
How is your segment making a difference for the foodservice industry?
I believe that at Newk’s Eatery we are making a difference in how we offer career opportunities to our team. As we all know, the foodservice industry minimum wage is the example used by our Government for public discussion. It is our philosophy at Newk’s Eatery that we not only pay a higher wage than minimum wage, we also show a career path to our team so that they are able to accomplish even more. We strive to promote from within and have many success stories. We have teammates that started out making sandwiches that have gone on to hold various company positions within Newk’s Eatery. Some of our most visible success stories are the teammates who have become Franchisees of Newk’s Eatery who are now in the position to ‘pass it on’ to their team. As leaders in our industry group, we can all make a difference in peoples lives.
What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?
It is all about the PEOPLE! You are in the foodservice industry, but if you take care of the people that are on your team then in turn your team will take care of the people who are guest in your restaurant. Hire the best, brightest and smartest team and pay them well. Do not be afraid to hire people smarter than you because you will learn from them, as they will learn from you. Also, get to know your team; ask them what their goals, dreams and desires are; what do they aspire to be one day and then set out to help them accomplish their goals, dreams and desires. Last but not least, enjoy the food you serve and success will be just around the corner.
What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?
To me honest, speechless. I never once thought I would be here. I have always respected and admired the winners before me. It makes me want to give back to our industry even more because there is so much more we can accomplish.
Join us at the 2017 IFMA Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration and help us in honoring Chris Newcomb and the rest of the Silver Plate Recipents. Click HERE for event information and to buy your table now!