I’ve become a bit of a BBQ connoisseur. Actually, that may be somewhat of an understatement. A “BBQ addict” is probably a more accurate assessment, because I’m always on the lookout for a great BBQ joint.
In fact, I am almost as obsessed with discovering good BBQ as I am with discovering good teammates.
I recently stumbled upon Ellie Lou’s BBQ in Ocoee, Florida, and it has quickly become one of my favorite eateries.
Every great BBQ place has a story, and Ellie Lou’s is no exception.
Owner Ellen “Ellie Lou” Korbin had been in the food service industry for a while. Her business was responsible for the coffee kiosks in the Orlando Convention Center, as well as the incredibly tasty funnel cakes sold at Walt Disney World.
One day, Korbin decided to team up with Chef Dennis Cheplick—a former Disney chef—and pursue a BBQ venture. Chef Dennis spent an entire year perfecting the BBQ recipes used at Ellie Lou’s before the duo opened their new restaurant.
However, the real secret to Ellie Lou’s success isn’t in their BBQ sauce, it’s in their service. As good as their product is (and it’s really good!), their staff is even better. Ellie Lou’s has one of the most courteous and attentive staffs I have ever come across.
I wondered how they were able to assemble what appears to be an entire team of good teammates.
Sherry Roberts Pelfrey, one of the managers responsible for hiring the restaurant’s staff, told me they look for “people-people”—individuals who like to be around other people, and whom other people like to be around.
That’s a great way of explaining one of the primary characteristics of a good teammate.
I asked Roberts Pelfrey—who, incidentally, is described on her business card as putting “the sauce in sauce-y”—if there is a specific question she asks potential employees during the interview process that gives her an indication the candidate will be a good fit for the Ellie Lou’s team.
She said she asks them to describe to her the best customer service experience they have ever had at a restaurant they ate at. Their answers let her know the type and quality of service the candidates appreciate from a customer’s perspective. Their answers also give Roberts Pelfrey a glimpse into the candidates’ capacity to empathize with the efforts of a good server.
Good teammates appreciate the virality of their mood and understand how their actions and their demeanor affect others. In the restaurant business, the best servers always see themselves as being teammates with their co-workers and their customers.
The staff at Ellie Lou’s has mastered this skill.
If you’re in the market for some good BBQ, I recommend you check out Ellie Lou’s. You can tell them I sent you, but I doubt that would make much difference, because Ellie Lou’s treats everybody special—regardless of who sent them.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.