I began making notes for a speech. How the past and the present have shaped Stones Hospitality Group’s success and set the stage for the future.
Words of gratitude would be apropos on the night of moonstones 10 year anniversary “thank you” celebration. We had been promoting this party-slash-bash for over a month, and with great relief, well over 200 people showed to celebrate with us. (What a relief! One never knows who shows…)
Live music from The New Englanders, hours of passed hors d’oeuvres, complimentary champagne, lots of balloons and hugs and reunions (and tequila)—and a full house kept the staff running and (most) smiling until after midnight. (Kids these days… )
moonstones 10 year success is the result of so many things—but chiefly, as my father-in-law says: “It’s all about people.”
That truism began 10 years ago at Cobblestones—who at the time was enjoying her 15th year of consecutive growth. Such great success. We proceeded to “poach” an “A Team” from Cobblestones—Steve Simone went from assistant manager to new GM, Manny Besana transferred his head chef skills (while Paul Dubuque returned “home” and took the kitchen-wheel at Cobblestones). Kim Mello oversaw each (and both!) bars for nearly a dozen years, Cody Weber, Chris Normandin and a handful of others (including my middle daughter-turned food runner) brought with them the high standards of hospitality, quality and consistency—a cornerstone for the new location to build upon, while we created an entirely unique and contrasting menu for our future guests!
This team created great momentum that ultimately steered us through one of the greatest financial crisis this country has ever endured. Both restaurants sales dropped by up to 30% in an instant for a period of many painful, very scary months. Meanwhile, at Cobblestones, “Day One” leader Robin Dupell did what she always does—dug in her heels and set the standard for kick-ass grit, ultimate guest commitment, and “get it right” leadership, while promoting Kelli Robarge from host-extraordinaire to assistant manager. These two dedicated women (with now “weakened” staff) steered the giant “mother ship” straight through those rough waters, all the way to today! Cobblestones has just celebrated her 24th anniversary (in the “shadow” of moonstones 10th!) and is still posting great growth numbers!
I’d say, both restaurants have never been better–living up to one of my favorite mantras (and we have many!): “Get better everyday.” These days, Holly J administrates and coordinates while she mightily keeps leadership set up for success (and on script!), while “new” director of operations Ken W teaches us all many things about positivity, professionalism and the endless pursuit of (even greater) sales growth!
At the party, we were thrilled to see so many former staff members return to celebrate with us. Sadly, many move on through the years but their efforts and contributions to this milestone are so greatly appreciated. It was amazing to celebrate with Claire (there representing on behalf of Joey Seidler), Meg, Cheryl, Vanessa, C Baer and so many others (those who I am spacing, please forgive me as the whole night was a bit of a blur—a vortex of faces upon faces!)
During my (non-typically short) speech last night, I was unable to introduce the incredible staff that makes moonstones so great today. Because, while former staff members relaxed, and the guests this party was designed to celebrate, celebrated, our staff did what they do—humped non stop!
The best chef we have had in 10 years—and there have been a couple great ones—meticulously assembled hundreds of hors d’oeuvres, as Marco, the best sous chef since Chef Adam took the lead, danced between party food and full-dining room food production, while my youngest daughter–truly one of the best expos we have had in 24 years (not named Dad )–coordinated food and service for hours with hardly a growl—while managers and supervisors Sadi and Jason and Hannah supported their awesome staff and managed the huge crowd, while GM Peggy McFarland hustled hors d’oeuvres with the servers to the hundreds of hungry party-goers–she always ultimately committed to both her staff and our guests.
After finally sitting down, I spent the closing hour, enjoying the company of our most special friends—many who have supported us throughout the entire 24 years that these Stones have been rollin’–the exhausted bartenders finally gave us the boot. It was time. It was a great night—and if you missed it, don’t fret—we will be celebrating all summer long in a variety of ways.
We have set the standard high—and will soon begin calculating how Cobblestones will top that party when next summer, we celebrate number 25!! Damn.
Stay tuned…and THANK YOU, THANK YOU ALL for the incredible support you have all given us through these years!