More than two decades ago, Richard Hauck and Joseph
Saccone were working at a chic rooftop restaurant in an upscale
hotel. The restaurant typically drew a steady following of local
gourmands, so the two were no strangers to a hectic dinner rush.
On one particular night, a sudden maelstrom of guests and
orders sent the kitchen into an uncharted state of pandemonium.
“I remember the place got packed,” Hauck says. “The kitchen
got swamped, and the dishwasher was swamped. Dishes were
stacked up everywhere.”
Abandoning his post as maitre d’, Hauck rushed into the fray to
help. He had witnessed lesser chaos in the restaurant industry
before, and he was no stranger to rolling up his sleeves and lending a hand. When he entered the kitchen on this night though, he
saw something that caught him by surprise: “I went back into the
dish room, and I saw the company’s vice president, who was
there with his wife and family having dinner, back there with an
apron on washing dishes. He just took his sport jacket off and
threw on the apron and started working like that’s the most
important thing to get done.”
When you’re trying to establish a culture of excellence, Hauck
and Saccone say you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to
get the job done. Just as that vice president stepped away from his
own plate to wash everyone else’s, you can’t hesitate to step in and
serve as an example for your internal constituents.
That’s something the duo has tried to do since founding their
own restaurant group in 1988. From the day their first Hyde Park
Prime Steakhouse opened in Cleveland, the partners and owners
have chipped in at every level of the company to contribute to an
unflappable culture of success.
“It’s really just leading by example,” Saccone says. “It was whatever it took — washing dishes, cleaning up after people in the
bathroom — whatever needed to be done. It really started off
early, setting the standard that we were going to be above and
beyond the best we could possibly be and showing it by example.”
That philosophy became even more pronounced as the partners
expanded their business into 10 new markets and under two new
brands. Today, Hyde Park Group’s revenue is in excess of $40 million per year, while averaging 15 percent growth during the past 10
Here’s how Hauck and Saccone made sure their culture was
cooked to perfection before serving it up in new markets.