Ah, the joys of owning a small business, and more specifically a restaurant group. On one hand I have the hiring and maintaining of 150 employees, tax deadlines, pleasing thousands of customers, constant promotions and dealing with the occasional plumbing leak at 2:00 am. On the plus side, I have the gratitude of returning business, the freedom to make decisions, the opportunities of expansion and all the food and libations that I can handle. I have always seen myself as someone who would one day run my own company. I absolutely enjoy being surrounded by people, each of who have a unique story to tell. Whether it’s an employee telling me about the crazy night he (or she) had last night, or a customer who has a profession that I never even heard of, it is all entertaining and is the reason I get up in the morning.
I grew up in the restaurant business and remember when I was 14 years old helping the chefs in my dad’s kitchen prep daily meals. Even though I was probably just a nuisance, I found the work fun and interesting. The chemistry that was at work when combining ingredients and adding heat in different ways in order to come up something delicious opened a whole new world to me. Although this ended up being an age of discovery that would later lead to where I am today, I swore at that time I would never go into this profession. The long hours, the constant cleaning and maintenance, dealing with customers, the stress and impact of service times, all things that I now believe I cannot properly function without.
After working in my dad’s restaurant group I went to Europe to play in multiple star rated restaurants where I found my passion for the culinary arts. After a nine year stay and getting degrees in business, the culinary arts, teaching, and computer sciences, I decided to come back home where I would utilize all I learned in the formation of Great Food Group Inc.
Today I run a four restaurant group with my father/business partner/best friend. We are a restaurant family who loves everything about this profession and consider ourselves to be restaurant brats. We have plans to expand throughout Atlanta and maybe to other fun cities. While we have gained much recognition through our use of technology and hospitality including Apple, Evernote, and now ScanSnap, we are constantly striving to become more digitally efficient, 100% paperless, and in a sense futuristic. Our managers love the fact that everything we are doing is years ahead of other groups. The fact that it was only a year ago that we bought our first ScanSnap and now carry over 10,000 documents on our phones that are searchable in seconds, automatically sync with our accountant & managers, that don’t take up storage units anymore but are saved and archived forever across several platforms, has not only given us better control over the mountains of files we once had, but has now freed us up to concentrate on other things.
Patrick Albrecht is an award-winning chef and owner of the Atlanta-based restaurant group, Great Food Group Inc.