Growing up down the way from Langdon Hall, dining room server Samantha recalls visiting the property with her family for special occasions. Experiencing the dining room during birthday celebrations perhaps influenced Samantha’s future career in the restaurant industry – even if not, her family visits left her with memorable moments and a love for Langdon Hall.
“Like many students trying to earn extra money, I became a hostess at Boston Pizza when I was 14,” explains Samantha. “At that point, I hadn’t developed a passion for the industry yet but I caught on to the environment fairly quickly.”
After high school, Samantha travelled to Alberta where she lived for a year and brought her restaurant experience with her. She was grateful she could rely on her food and beverage knowledge to help sustain her trip, before deciding to come home to attend university.
“Pursuing a career in the restaurant industry still didn’t cross my mind when applying for university,” says Samantha. “So I ended up commuting to Ryerson for criminology and psychology. But during this time I worked part-time at Charcoal Steak House in Kitchener, and this experience opened my eyes.”
For Samantha, it was her first taste of working in a fine dining restaurant and witnessing the passion for creating memorable cuisine. This was a pivotal experience that lasted four years and ultimately guided Samantha’s next decision to apply to the Restaurant Management Program at Conestoga College.
“I had been struggling with trying to develop a career with my university degree and I think the true struggle was discovering what I was passionate about,” recalls Samantha. “I remember a huge weight being lifted when I realized the possibility of a career in the restaurant industry.”
While completing her college program, Samantha became the event manager at a local golf course, which exposed her to a new side of the industry. Although she discovered her enjoyment in event planning, Samantha missed the restaurant atmosphere, and soon morphed into the role of restaurant manager for a Waterloo establishment with two locations.
Now with her managerial experience as well as executing events, Samantha tried her luck at the prestigious Langdon Hall.
“I have always loved Langdon Hall and it became a dream to work there,” explains Samantha. “When I was called for an interview I was ecstatic and ended up being offered a job in the restaurant.”
Although Samantha wasn’t used to the high expectations of this Five-Diamond restaurant, she learned quickly and was eager to grow with the team. However, her career was put on a slight pause when she became a mother and welcomed her son Nathan to the world.
“I love being a mom and watching Nathan grow,” smiles Samantha. “But when I returned to work I realized there was a lot of growth I missed within the restaurant. We were recently ranked the 5th best restaurant by Canada’s 100 Best, opened a new event space, and had ambitious goals of reaching for the stars.”
Samantha knew she had the potential to support the team in achieving these newfound goals, but not necessarily only as a dinner server. Instead, she proposed a new role that would help fuse the team with the help of technology.
“I remember watching my step-son use Google Classroom for his school work and realized how beneficial the tool would be for the dining room team,” explains Samantha. “I pitched the idea to management and they loved it.”
Samantha was tasked with developing Google Classroom for the restaurant and assembling a database where all menu descriptions, wine notes, and property history could be accessed at any time by staff. Enabling a new educational tool for the staff ensured that each guest experience would receive the same level of knowledge.
“This project has fueled my growing passion to new find ways to support the team and enhance the guest experience,” explains Samantha. “I also get to work closely with Chef Jason and his team to learn about each new dish and I love this aspect.”
The success of Samantha’s project has spread across the property as other departments have enlisted her to start their own Google Classroom – including the Spa. Managing the tool and introducing it to new departments has given Samantha a new sense of belonging.
“I feel like I’m truly making a difference to the success of our team and I know this project has the potential to morph into something even better,” says Samantha. “Who knows what the future holds but I can’t wait to discover it at Langdon Hall.”