The first 100 days of a typical chief executive officer usually implies big changes and shake-ups within a company. I’m pleased to say my experience breaks the mold. In all honesty, my initial days as CEO were similar to my last 100 days serving as chief operating officer—a constant whirlwind of activity and never a dull moment, but always aligned in the direction we are heading.
As CEO, I’ll continue to lead PJW Restaurant Group on the same steady growth trajectory that we have enjoyed for the last few years, expanding where it makes sense and striving for the best possible customer experience. As someone who has worked in operations my entire career, I’m certainly no stranger to leading people, setting goals, developing protocols and growing our business.
When I joined the company 15 years ago, we had seven restaurants and two concepts. At the end of 2018, we celebrated 35 successful years and opened Central Taco and Tequila, our fifth concept and 23rd restaurant. As COO, I oversaw the opening of 16 new restaurants, created more than 1,200 new jobs, increased revenues by $80 million, and built strong relationships with Philly institutions like Comcast/NBC Sports, and the Wells Fargo Center. With three restaurants slated to open in 2019, we have no plans to slow down anytime soon. We will open our 18th and 19th P.J. Whelihan’s as well as a new concept, the ChopHouse Grille in Exton, Pennsylvania, adapting the upscale experience of our original ChopHouse in Gibbsboro, New Jersey, with a more casual feel.
Our burgeoning restaurant group still maintains the same philosophy that we have held for 35 years—treat customers and employees like family. While we have many more employees, more facilities to operate, and a lot more customers to serve, we never waver from our core set of ideals. What makes me most excited to go to work every morning has always been interacting with the customers and employees who make up our PJW family.
One of my top priorities in the first 100 days was teambuilding—putting people in positions where they can flourish and continue to grow within the company. I believe strongly in our company’s great legacy of community engagement. Taking the time to ingratiate ourselves into the neighborhoods we serve is what we believe keeps happy customers coming back. That won’t change. Just this year, PJW Restaurant Group raised $124,064 for Ronald McDonald House Charities in our region.
I learned early on in operations that change for change’s sake is unnecessary. No matter how many restaurant concepts and locations we open, PJW Restaurant Group will stay true to our operating philosophy. As we grow, improve, and refine our business, we know that our success lies in our team members and the communities we serve. Leading isn’t always about change but instead identifying what you do well and maintaining focus so those around you can grow.
Jim Fris has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry.