Advocating for Others~The Alley on Main Way

Tonight, I am very excited to have Shawn Hackinson as our guest on the Level Up with #GTT podcast. He is the owner/operator of my favorite restaurant, The Alley on Main, located at 223 W Main Street in Murfreesboro, TN. (Chicken Parm in the House)

Shawn began his career with Darden Restaurants, starting off with their Red Lobster chain. “Regardless of the company, I worked with people. I enjoyed developing people and getting folks to see the bigger picture. Managing and developing people is my biggest passion. I enjoy coaching and training our staff to see how systems work in the restaurant.”

He has found that when guests fill out those satisfaction surveys, it is no win or loose for them. We should listen to what they say. Less than 1 percent of complaints in the restaurant industry complain to get something free. “If you take it personal every time someone says something negative about your business (or what you do) and blow it off as they are complainers or they just want something for free, you will struggle. You have to look at the complaint, whether big or small, and make sure your staff are abiding by the standard.”

The vision for The Alley on Main is to be a community place that offers high quality food, in a non pretentious, kid friendly atmosphere. “Christy and I wanted you to say “lets go see Shawn and Christy,” and not “lets go to The Alley.” The type of atmosphere they create is lost in the corporate restaurants where you become just a number. Owners and managers never stop by your table to have a conversation with you. “We wanted to offer something different, we wanted to make a connection. We wanted to be that neighborhood restaurant that offered an atmosphere whether you sit for an hour or four hours. We want you to come in and enjoy your time.”

Many owners struggle with managing a staff. Shawn and Christy find implementing systems and holding people accountable works. They feel that checking back with your standards and implementing coaching helps. “It is easy to write someone up, but will they really change, more than likely no. If you put the time in and coach and explain why we do this or that is far more effective. The “whys” are the most effective. You have to give clear direction (see it, hear it, do it), follow up, and hold your team to accountable.”

“We look for like-minded people. We will pass on talent if they dont have the right attitude. We look for integrity, performance, and attitude. If you have a good work ethic and positive attitude, working at The Alley on Main will be the best job you ever had. You will always treat the staff you are working with respect, no matter your position. Our crew does this 100% of the day. We have an incredible staff.”

I believe that The Alley on Main has an unbelievable culture. Shawn mentions that it starts with you, the owner. “You have to do what you say. If you have a policy in place, then you must abide by that policy as well. You need to hold people accountable. Everything starts with you. You need to weed the negative culture out. Your team wants structure, they want the policies to be put in place. No one comes into work wanting to fail. People want to achieve and be recognized for their hard work. You have to live and breathe the culture, it can’t just be words in a policy book.”

Shawn and Christy’s generosity and giving has caught the communities attention. They believe in developing your employees and giving back. “There were people who were there for me, even when I didn’t deserve it or appreciate it. Give time to your community. It doesn’t have to be about cutting a check. Give from your heart and for the right reasons.”

The keys to being successful in this industry include treating your staff right, pay them right, create an atmosphere where they want to be. It all boils down to culture, environment,  and quality of product.

“If you don’t know the systems, if you don’t know the operation side, if you don’t know how people are stealing from you, where people belong, how to schedule, you WILL NOT SUCCEED. You need more than just good food and good drinks. You have to know the time and the hours it takes to run this business. You need to know and understand the operation side. There are scarifies that will be made.”

Shawn and Christy Hackinson are expanding their business next door. They will be building a 2-story that will offer a fast casual menu from 11-3, their primary catering kitchen will be housed here, and at night they will hold private events with music and a rooftop bar.  Their pipe dream would be expanding the culture with multiple locations.

Are you hungry yet? I encourage you to visit Shawn and Christy at The Alley on Main. I “hear” that chicken parmesan is delicous.


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Hi. I am Tommy Davidson, aka GoodTimeTommy #GTT, and I am a real estate and self improvement entrepreneur in Murfreesboro, TN. I have over 14 years of experience in real estate sales and the past 5 years I have started playing up to my level.

I hired a coach and surrounded myself with those who were better than me. I have read over 1,000 hours of sales training and constantly improving myself daily.

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