So you want to open a restaurant. But the only experience you have is as a cook or a server. You don’t know the first thing about the finer points of running a restaurant – like how to make money. What to do? Journee founder Anthony Rudolf may have the answer.
“In the restaurant world, it’s very much the sink or swim, succeed or fail, learn on the job mentality,” he says. “Journee exists to help you evolve to that point. We want to be here for your entire 20-year career.”
Journee is a community for restaurant professionals in New York City, in the heart of the Flatiron District, according to Rudolf. “Members receive access to unlimited classes, guidance from industry vets, and a collaborative space for meetings or catching up with peers,” he explains. “The space serves as a home for ambitious and curious thinkers and doers in food, beverage, and hospitality to discover, share, and collaborate, empowering restaurant professionals to take control of their careers and ultimately affect the way the profession evolves.”
Rudolf acknowledges that while making it in the restaurant industry will never be easy, Journee provides the access to the know-how and resources to help professionals make the leap.
The founder should know. Hailing from a small town outside Philadelphia, he grew up in the restaurant industry. “At 15 years old, I went to tech school, high school, then on to the Culinary Institute of America. I’ve been in this business ever since,” he notes.
The idea for Journee came from being on both sides of the equation as a young professional desiring to grow and also as a manager wanting to provide a staff with the tools they need to be successful, he points out.
“I spent four years with Jean Georges working through a waiter, then through a service director. I went on to work for Chef Keller for seven years, going from maitre d’ to director of operations. As a young professional growing his career – becoming a general manager at 29 at Per Se – I really hadn’t had a business or finance background. I hadn’t seen a P&L statement since college,” he recalls.
Rudolf believes that growing your way through the ranks – from server and cook to management – what you need is what’s on your daily prep list, either in the dining room or the kitchen, not management techniques. “There are very few resources available to you to take the next step, take control of your career and grow,” he reiterates.
What he is seeking to provide is open access to resources for restaurant professionals, he says. “I was going to do it all online – the whole business was going to be an online learning platform. But one of the things I soon discovered is that building an online community and video production wasn’t really what I wake up every day and thirst to do,” he says. “It’s really about being a person. Instead of going to studios and recording and filming and distributing content, why not just build a community center and from that we’ll distribute what happens in here digitally?”
And so Journee was born.
“I’m here full time, and I have a 3,000-square-foot space where members can come and take as many classes as they like, come with a laptop and hammer out work or take a meeting in the conference room,” Rudolf states.
“We’re focused on the individual learner. And we try to be conscious of costs. We’re priced for a $12-an-hour employee, whether a cook or server. You’re able to join and be in control of your own career and not be dependent on anyone else — $40 a month, or $365 annually and you get access to as many classes as you want, no additional charge. That’s a dollar a day!” he says.
Four programs run a week, from human resources to legal to accounting and finance. “Every week we have a wine class so you can get access to a wine education for just $365,” he adds. “Programming changes weekly. It’s not meant to go from 0 to 1. It’s more like, three months from now, you have the potential for your first management role. If you come once a week or twice a month, we’re going to teach you management 101 leadership, the basics of finance, and HR, so you’re prepared for when you take that leap you have a little head start.”
Rudolf notes that, if you start out as a cook or waiter, you get promoted to sous chef or maitre d, based on how good you are at cooking or serving. “But your leadership skills have yet to be tested or developed. So first you take some leader mentorship classes so you can think in that mode, and as that develops, you take food-costing class, where the burden would not be on the employer to teach you these things.”
From his experience of going through the system and hiring hundreds of people, the accreditation from the 0 to 1 standpoint is very important. “What it tells me as an employer is that this person is committed to this as a career,” he declares. “It doesn’t tell me they’re qualified or have the skills, but if they spend anywhere from $18 to 60k to join this career, they’re going to be committed for a chunk of time. I can help mold and shape them.”
To learn more about Journee, visit their website.