As part of the SEBA Breakfast Speaker Series, Jeff Gates spoke to an
audience of South End small business owners on Wednesday morning.
Jeff is a partner at The Aquitaine Group, which includes five South End restaurants and two restaurants in Chestnut Hill and Dedham. The Aquitaine Group’s restaurants are widely recognized as among the very best in the city of Boston’s growing and respected restaurant scene. They have garnered awards from local and national publications. He spoke for 45 minutes about his experiences opening and running a series of successful restaurants in Boston's South End.
He started out in the South End as a cash-strapped Northeastern student, studying Mechanical Engineering. He turned to washing dishes when standing outside as a parking lot attendant got too cold. Over the years, he rose up the ranks to become a partner at the Aquitaine Group, surviving several economic crises and seeing the neighborhood transformed.
Jeff spoke on themes of good leadership, good friendship, and how important it is to empathize with your customers. He described all the behind-the-scenes details that go into every customer receiving great service and great food.
His advice to small business owners? Respect your clients by paying attention to the details, embracing the routine that structures every day, and teaching your employees to have respect for the customer and the business. In his words, "Polish your shoes! No one polishes their shoes anymore".
The Question and Answer section opened up into a discussion among the audience and Jeff on how to find staff and train them to carry the message of the business.
We'd like to thank everyone who came out; we had a record attendance for our Breakfast Series! Thank you to Jeff Gates for donating his time and to Greenlight Cafe for providing the great breakfast.