How Playing Under a Super Bowl Winning Coach Motivates this Restaurant CEO

Turning Point Restaurants
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Turning Point Restaurants, an emerging breakfast and lunch only concept offering unique, creatively designed, seasonal options in a warm and inviting setting, has recently made the decision to go into franchising.

Turning Point Restaurants Kirk Ruoff
Kirk Ruoff, Turning Point Restaurants Founder and CEO

With 21 locations across three states, Turning Point Restaurants’ growth can largely be attributed to the leadership of founder and CEO, Kirk Ruoff.

Ruoff started in the restaurant industry at the age of 13 when he was hired by his best friend’s father, former National Restaurant Association president Michael Hurst, to work at his ‘15th Street Fisheries’ restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. While that experience spurred his passion for the restaurant industry, his time playing football for Boston College under Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Coughlin helped to shape the type of leader he is today.

“While the coach may not be on the field running the ball or battling in the trenches, they are on the sidelines calling plays and getting the most out of their players,” said Ruoff. “Coach Coughlin was always motivating our team and collaborating with every position on the field to create a winning game plan. Coaches, like business owners, will pull out all of the stops to succeed, and it’s up to them to set expectations and be clear about the game plan ahead.”

Coughlin was the head coach of the Boston College Eagles Football Team from 1991 to 1993 before taking over as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995.  After becoming head coach of the New York Giants in 2004, he led the team to two Super Bowl wins in 2007 and 2011. He left the Giants in 2016. 

  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • RAK Porcelain
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • RATIONAL USA
  • Easy Ice
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • Atosa USA
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • McKee Foodservice
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • Day & Nite
  • Imperial Dade

A few years after graduation, Ruoff, who was working in the auto industry at the time, realized that his passion was in restaurant hospitality. That’s when he and his wife, Pam, took a big risk and moved into his parents’ New Jersey home while Ruoff worked at his local Chili’s. Three years later, the duo purchased a small lunch and dinner restaurant in Little Silver, New Jersey and turned it into the admired brand it is today. 

Ruoff attributes his success to three leadership qualities he experienced playing under Coughlin: 

TEAMWORK

“Without teamwork, success is impossible, especially in our industry,” said Ruoff, who stressed the importance of collaborating with every single part of his business to create an environment where people feel empowered and taken care of. Ruoff says he may not be working on the cooking line or in the dining room anymore, but his experience of growing the business from humble beginnings and performing all the duties in the restaurant allows him to empathize with his staff members, and ultimately make them feel like a pivotal member of the team. “It’s not my company, it’s our company,” he said. 

MOTIVATION

“If your team isn’t motivated, you might as well not even have one,” said Ruoff. “When motivating a team, sometimes the numbers speak for themselves. In business, your scoreboard is the key performance index’s, guest satisfaction, financials and growth.” Turning Point Restaurants has continued to add locations and are now embarking on franchising the concept. “My team often motivates me to be better and continue to push into new challenges. I am extremely humbled at how hard they work for our business.”

ADAPTABILITY

A core statement that Ruoff lives by is “complacency breed mediocracy,” saying it’s up to successful leaders to continuously grow, redirect objectives, and adapt to the world around us. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we recognized an opportunity,” said Ruoff. “The pandemic gave everyone the chance to reassess their professional goals and evaluate new opportunities for the business. This was a big reason why we began franchising earlier this year. We put Turning Point in the best possible position to expand our footprint and provide restaurant industry colleagues an opportunity to start making their own professional decisions and say goodbye to 80-hour work weeks.”

Ruoff says none of his success would be possible if he didn’t have an idea of what a good leader looks like. He says it’s helped him build confidence in the future of the Turning Point brand. 

“We have our game plan and the team is prepared, now we just need to go out and execute to win the day!” said Ruoff. 


To learn more about Turning Point Restaurants, visit their website

  • Day & Nite
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • Easy Ice
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • Atosa USA
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • RATIONAL USA
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • McKee Foodservice
  • RAK Porcelain
  • Imperial Dade