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Meet Bill Kohl, Principal at Greenwood Hospitality Group. Bill received the 2021 Silver Plate Award in the Hotels & Lodging category and was nominated by Ecolab.


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Interview: What Drives the Nation's Top Foodservice Operators?

We asked the 2021 Silver Plate Class to share some perspectives and words of wisdom with the industry. Find out what they have to say about their passion for foodservice, career accomplishments and what it means to be part of a legendary group of operators.


How did you get your start in the foodservice industry?

I started as a bellman at a resort hotel.  I would frequently get pulled into the kitchen at breakfast to assist with dishwashing or in the pantry.  I enjoyed the work so much I changed my major to Hotel and Restaurant management and transferred to Penn State University.  Upon graduation, I became a Food and Beverage Director at that same hotel.  I subsequently became the General Manager of a 4-Star French restaurant featuring classical French cuisine and 300 wines.  This experience ignited my passion for food, wine, and service.  As my favorite philosopher Yogi Berra said, “you can observe a lot just by watching.”  I observed, asked questions, learned how to properly recognize, direct, and thank my fellow ambassadors (employees) and thus embarked on a life-long passion for excellence in hospitality and food and beverage.

What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?

I enjoy creating a vision for career growth for young ambassadors, so they understand the endless opportunities our industry has to offer.  I then enjoy teaching and mentoring them throughout their career, so they become proficient in all fundamentals.  Further, I like to cross train them in different departments so they get a breadth of experience they can use as a foundation to become well-rounded leaders in our industry.

Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.

It is tough for me to talk about myself, but I guess it is related to the question above. My biggest accomplishment is represented by the environment of servant leadership I have embraced which has allowed me to mentor and inspire dozens of co-workers into significant leadership positions within our organization or within our industry. Simplistically, creating opportunities for ambassadors to advance and grow their careers. This engenders great loyalty which I appreciate.

How have you kept yourself and your team motivated this past year?

It has been as difficult for us as it has been for all.  We significantly amped up communication throughout our corporate team and the entire portfolio.  Once it was clear that we were being shut down or significantly limited in service, we formed 5 work groups and challenged them to re-invent hospitality for Covid 19 restrictions.  The work groups consisted of 1. Guest satisfaction and Safety  2. Ambassador (employee) satisfaction and safety  3. Outstanding F&B service under Covid restrictions and 4. Disinfection and sanitation.   5. New service rituals to surprise and delight.

We involved our entire corporate team and all our senior on-property executives and challenged them to re-invent the guest experience focusing on successful delivery of the hospitality fundamentals of clean, safe, and friendly.  We also continually recognized and acknowledged the sacrifices being made by all as they were asked to do much more with less.  We held weekly staff call with the property teams just to share best practices, property needs or frustrations and to celebrate successes.  We focused on our Greenwood Hospitality Group core values and E.F.F.E.C.T. culture to ensure that we were providing the support necessary for the hotel teams to be successful.        

What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?

Take every opportunity to learn from the ground up, work in as many departments as you can and become a master of craft in as many disciplines possible.  Read as much as you can about leadership, salesmanship and public speaking and apply the principles to your job.  Identify the fundamentals of your position/department, focus on and master the fundamentals with fanatic attention to detail.  Have Fun!  If you have passion for what you do and you enjoy it, it is never work.  

What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?

I am honored and humbled to have my name included with the industry icons who have received this award in the past.  At the same time, it is extremely rewarding.  It serves as affirmation that working hard, being humble, thankful, and appreciative of your constituencies allows you to get results and be recognized.

What is your favorite meal?

Briny oysters- either on the ½ shell or broiled in lemon-garlic butter, Roast Chicken with caramelized onions, chicken demi-glace and crispy brussels sprouts and a great glass of Burgundy.


Live Conversation

Watch IFMA's live conversation with Bill Kohl, Principal of Greenwood Hospitality GroupHear Bill's story and learn what drives one of the nation’s top foodservice operators.

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