General Manager: Yankee Doodles
1410 3rd St Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Yelp: 2.5 stars
Interview Date: Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Kim Dubarry, General Manager of Yankee Doodles on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, started in the restaurant business right out of college.
Most of her experience has been in the nightclub business – she began as General Manager of a nightclub in Orange County when she was just 21 years old, and worked there for 11 years until it shut down in 2006. “I just kind of fell into it,” she says. “I knew the owner and ended up staying.”
Her next move was to Tia Juanas Long Bar and Grill in Irvine, where she was also General Manager. Then early this year the owners of Yankee Doodles made the trip to Orange County to meet her, and she came on as General Manager in March of this year. With five offsite owners, Kim runs day-to-day operations, but still needs to be aware of the owners’ wishes and decisions. “Definitely the biggest challenge is working with offsite owners – making sure that we’re communicating,” she says.
“You have to like what you’re doing to stay in any business this long,” says Kim. “I definitely like the people, and I like working with the owners.” With more than 100 employees and a capacity for 600 guests, Yankee Doodles is a large business that requires constant communication to maintain consistency.
To keep everyone on the same page, Kim says that one of her secrets is not throwing too many changes at the staff at one time. “One change at a time is about what we shoot for,” she says. “For most of our staff, this is just a job – they have other things to do outside of work, so we have to be really clear in our communications.”
“It’s definitely different to manage a sports bar compared to a nightclub,” she says. “Here we have steady business all day long with big crowds around sports events. At a nightclub you have a lot of people in a really short period of time.”
When I met Kim, it was about a week after the new Santa Monica Place opened, which features more stores and restaurants to attract tourists and locals to the Santa Monica Downtown area. “We have definitely noticed additional traffic from the new mall,” says Kim.
I asked Kim whether she has any advice for a restaurant owner who is hiring a GM. “You should definitely look for someone who has experience on the floor – doing everything,” she says. “When it gets really busy in here, I can jump behind the bar and serve as a bartender. You want someone who can not only teach your staff how to do things, but who can also cover when necessary.”