Part 2. Learning by doing
As we explored in our previous blog, more and more women are entering the business of barbecue. Smokey Mo’s BBQ, which operates restaurants throughout central Texas, is a case in point of a company highly supportive of women in leadership positions. In part 2 of our blog series, we continue our look at the key ingredients for their success.
For BreAnna Alba, general manager at Smokey Mo’s Shaenfield location, success is all about creating processes and systems. She starts her workday at 5:30 a.m. and spends the day monitoring food quality, ensuring orders go out promptly, and keeping staff on task.
How businesses work has been a lifelong interest for BreAnna. She started out in her family’s business at the age of 10 and more than a decade later, is pursuing a Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
Her advice to women entering management in the barbeque industry? “Insert yourself in the learning process. Be willing to learn everything you can, hands-on, in a kitchen environment. All pitmasters have their own tricks of the trade; you just need to figure out what works best for you. Surround yourself with people who will help you learn, grow, and evolve into who you want to become. Stay positive. A positive attitude can spark extraordinary results.”
Lisa Finely, store manager at Evans Crossing, started out in 2014 as an hourly employee at the Smokey Mo’s Bulverde Road location. Seven months later, she was promoted to management and has since continued to learn, grow, and achieve all that she can.
Lisa typically starts her workday at 5:30am, checking the brisket, starting the breakfast plan, and going through the day’s schedule of activities. Keeping an eye on the meat is at the top of the task list, making sure the time, temperature, and smoke level are continuously correct. “The job takes passion, patience, and tenacity to learn the craft correctly.”
“I love cooking and being a pitmaster, doing what it takes to ensure our food quality is always up to Smokey Mo’s high standards. When customers are smiling, we know we’ve done our job.”
Similarly, Brittany Elmendorf, shift leader and cutter at Smokey Mo’s Boerne store, began as a cashier two years ago and worked her way up to her current position. “I needed a job after high school, and Smokey Mo’s fit the bill! I learned by doing – not only how to ensure correct temperatures and portions but also how to build a team.”
Her advice to women considering a career in the barbecue business? “Don’t worry about anyone else. Just be the best you.”