The Hickey file Featured

10:09am EDT December 28, 2005

Born: 1954, Traverse City, Mich.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Michigan State University, hotel and restaurant management

First job: Cutting grass and washing dishes at a Big Boy restaurant

What is the greatest business lesson you’ve learned?
Surround yourself with great people and then great things can be accomplished.

What is the greatest business challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
In the early days of the Cooker Bar & Grille, we struggled terribly. We were losing money, losing faith and losing customers. As a result, we had to do an almost daily reinvention. Out of that pain came a lot of growth and a lot of learning.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?
In the restaurant business, Norman Brinker (founder of Brinker International, which owns Chili’s Grill & Bar, Romano’s Macaroni Grill and others) has done the best job of creating an organization that is perpetuating itself successfully, has great core values and done a superb job.