Name: TJ Arrowood
Occupation: Regional Operations Director, Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group (Red Robin)
Starting off as a server, TJ Arrowood worked his way through the ranks to become a Regional Operations Director for Red Robin - Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group, overseeing six restaurant locations. We asked TJ some questions to learn more about his career in restaurant operations.
1. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Do typical days exist in the restaurant industry? One thing that is always constant is validating health and safety standards and having a blast with my people. A typical day in a restaurant consists of working with the managers and team members on product quality, health and safety, spending some time with guests, and developing people!
2. Why did you choose this career/industry?
The restaurant industry is the greatest industry in the world lead by some of the world’s greatest people. Each day is different, challenging, and fun.
3. What was your first job in the industry?
I was a server at Friendly’s.
4. Briefly describe your career path and how you got to where you are today.
I started off as a server, became a trainer, then a manager, and general manager. While working full time, I got my Associates in Business from Elizabethtown College. From there I switched concepts starting off as a Kitchen Manager and becoming a General Manager. I took a short break from operations and work in Human Resources. I went back into operations as a General Manager and then developed into a multi-unit role. From there I added one restaurant at a time to my region until I got promoted into my current role overseeing six restaurants.
5. What is your favorite part of your job?
Developing people, working with team members who want to be developed into managers. One of the great things about the restaurant industry is that anyone can start off as an entry level team member, work really hard, develop themselves, and get to an executive level position. My favorite part is seeing these hardworking team members work their way up and better themselves and their families!
6. What is the most challenging part of your job?
Staffing at all levels in our current labor market.
7. What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing a career in hospitality?
Work for a company that you love and is going to take the time to develop you. Find a mentor, explore all aspects of the hospitality industry, explore formal education, and work really hard. This is the industry of opportunity when you set goals and work really hard towards them. Don’t discount the value you add, put your people first, get great results, and make yourself the obvious choice for the promotion, you will achieve your goals.
8. What achievement are you most proud of?
Starting out as a server and working my way up to director. The best part about this is all the people that developed and got promoted along the way with me!
9. What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Spend time with my family, remodel houses, and go to the beach!
10. Favorite thing to eat (or make)?
All things seafood.
PA ProStart Blog
The PA ProStart Blog is for Pennsylvania students and teachers of the ProStart Program- a nationwide, two-level high school career and technical education program that teaches culinary arts and restaurant fundamentals.