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Longtime readers of A La Cart will recognize the name Ryan Wilson. He’s my nephew and a fourth generation family member working in our company. After his college years, he became a very accomplished chef in some of the best Northern California restaurants. Ten years ago, he started with Lawry’s Restaurants when he opened our first SideDoor gastropub in Five Crowns. Since then, he’s led the kitchens at Five Crowns and the Tam O’Shanter and, on being promoted to Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef, has taken on an ever-increasing role with us. When this Frank Talk’s writing schedule coincided with some long-held vacation plans, I thought we’d have Rye “grab the mic.” I know you’ll enjoy getting to know him a little better.
I want to thank my uncle for the chance to tell you about what I’ve been up to over the last year.
In July 2017, I joined 102 students from all over the world as a Sloan Fellow in the yearlong Stanford Graduate School of Business’s Master of Science in Management for Experienced Leaders degree program.
Considering my future career with Lawry’s and expecting to take on increased responsibility, I wanted to expand on the knowledge I had accumulated over the years as a co-worker, both in the kitchen and as an executive. I knew I needed to broaden my understanding of general business principles. I also wanted to learn from others with experience outside the hospitality field and build a network beyond the restaurant industry. The degree program presented a fantastic opportunity to accomplish these goals, but it did require some big changes for me and my family.
I would not only be a full-time student again but also a husband and father of two little girls.
I hadn’t been in an academic setting since my bachelor days at Pomona College 15 years ago. This time around, I would not only be a full-time student again but also a husband and father of two little girls. We packed up and moved from Southern California into student housing on the Stanford campus. I quickly established a schedule attending class daily, doing homework most nights of the week, getting up at six in the morning to help get my family ready for the day and also spending about 20% of my time on Lawry’s business.
Looking back, it was rigorous but incredibly rewarding. By the time I graduated on June 16th, I had brushed up on accounting, learned a variety of new finance tools and strategy frameworks and been especially inspired by the energy of the Silicon Valley start-up community. I plan to bring some of that energy to Lawry’s in my new position as Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer.
I’ll be covering a lot of ground. Along with working on marketing strategy, I’ll help develop new concepts and products, oversee the accounting department and continue my role in growing our international licensing business.
I’m excited to apply the tools and resources I’ve acquired from my year at Stanford to our nearly one-hundred-year old family business. Luckily, I’ll also be able to draw on the wisdom and experience of my uncle and all our co-workers as we move into the future and continue to offer you the best we can.
As you can tell, Ryan will be well prepared to receive the leadership baton that has been passed down through the generations. All of us at Lawry’s are very proud of him and congratulate him on his new degree and new position.
From the desk of Richard R. Frank