Q. What has your Geronimo Journey been? Where did you start, and how did you get to where you are today?
A. Café Belwah was my first job in high school at age 16. Before Merrill and Houston’s (Geronimo) was born, the business was called Café Belwah and Diane and Ken were part owners. I started there as a busser and between Belwah and the creation of Merrill and Houston’s, I worked my way around the restaurant for the remainder of my high school and college years, learning everything from front of house to back of house and some manager duties such as scheduling, inventory and ordering. After working as the Catering Lead/Sous Chef and graduating with degrees in Culinary Arts and Business Management, I was looking for further my growth in the company. Rob Gerbitz, CEO of Hendricks Commercial Properties, got wind of my interest and we met to discuss potential opportunities. His “Juicy Lucy/Burger Bar” vision came up and we both shared enthusiasm about bringing this concept to life in our up-and-coming downtown Beloit. I left the interview with the task of creating a menu. At the age of 24, I was hired as the General Manager and Executive Chef of Lucy’s #7 Burger Bar which I opened in April of 2015 with the help of an incredible team and great leaders.
PEOPLE + CULTURE SPECIALIST: GERONIMO HOSPITALITY GROUP
Emily is one of our Geronimo OG's. She has held down the fort at Lucy's #7 Burger Bar since it opened... but did you know she was with Geronimo well before her time at Lucy's? Did you know she coined the phrase "cool people who work hard"? Did you know this introduction paragraph is a bit too long-winded and should've wrapped up a couple sentences ago? With that, we give you Emily "Burger Queen" Hopper.
Q. What in the world were you doing before you came to work with Geronimo?
A. Teaching Boy Scouts about bugs. On the 2nd day as a Camp Counselor, I decided sleeping in a cold cabin and playing with insects was not my thing. I applied for my first job within “Geronimo” the same day I left the Boy Scout camp and have been working for the company ever since.
Q. So far, how has Geronimo been different from your previous work experience(s)?
A. This one is tricky because my work experience outside of Geronimo is little to none, but I have a new restaurant manager who has worked for other companies and never felt there was opportunity for growth. She is very excited for the opportunities she is already seeing within Geronimo.
Q. Geronimo has a lot of cool people who work hard...Tell us what makes them so cool?
A. What makes our people cool is their personal dedication throughout every shift. They bring their own unique self to the job and carry an optimistic attitude that their teammates feed from. Being cool means they have fun with what they do, and they do it well. Guests can see that they are having fun which provides a more memorable experience.
Q. What is your favorite saying from the Geronimo Manifesto and why? How do you apply it to your everyday?
A. Teach what you know. Learn what you don’t.
I opened a restaurant with zero management experience… I had to learn a LOT! Still, 7 years into management, I ask questions. I learn from those who have experience where I lack. I provide developmental coaching and personal interest in those who are interested in growing within Geronimo because I, personally, know the path and its good.
Q. In your career, what is the gameplan?
A. I want to continue to grow within Geronimo and represent our company. Seeing my team continue to develop/grow is also a goal of mine. Within the next 3 years, I plan to transition into a role that offers a consistent schedule for my family.
Q. If you had to pick a favorite Geronimo brand (other than Lucy's) which one would it be and why?
A. The Garage. Hands down! This is such a fun and cool concept.