The Burg Bar and Grill
Individual Excellence in Customer Service
“Growing up in a family-owned and operated restaurant and bar business I was taught to always give a warm welcome and never to let anyone leave hungry or unhappy.”
If I think hard enough I can bring myself back. Four years old, feet swinging from the tall, vintage stool at the foot of the front register, mid-afternoon, innocent eyes glaring down a long hallway as the sun peered through the front glass doors, anxiously awaiting the arrival of a customer while holding a grin from ear to ear. I can still hear my father command in his booming voice and thick Greek accent, “Make sure you greet all the customers with a big smile!” Growing up in a family-owned and operated restaurant and bar business I was taught to always give a warm welcome and never to let anyone leave hungry or unhappy. Well, thanks Dad! I always thought your ideas of hospitality would pay off, but thanks to the creative kindness of Squaremouth to spread a little holiday cheer… It paid off, literally!
I would truly like to thank and commend Squaremouth for these random acts of thoughtfulness and for rewarding what we like to call in the Greek culture, philoxenia – translated as the befriending of a stranger or simply put, hospitality. You see, growing up in a Greek family in the restaurant business for over 30 years, definitely allows you to form a greater meaning to the term hospitality. Hospitality does not stop when you clock out at the end of your shift but rather is always carried with you and is the readiness to share generously even in one’s own home. This mentality was engraved in me by the example of my family; when we had nothing else to give we could always bare our love through the sharing of a warm meal. To this day, we still have countless customers that come up to us that will never forget the beautiful table my father put together for them. So, it is not only I who am honored by the generosity of Squaremouth, but my entire family.
I am a 25 year old nursing student, born and raised in St. Petersburg, and the oldest of five children. I’ve always had a knack for the medical field and plan to continue in the hospitality business after graduating in June with a BSN in nursing (Hospital = Hospitality). I have been working at The Burg for a year, but I have to admit it’s more than a place of employment or a cozy bar on the outskirts of downtown St. Petersburg; it’s home. We call our customers by their first names and have their drinks ready for them before they sit down. The owner’s mother goes by Mama and anyone who becomes part of The Burg family, from employees to customers to delivery personnel, call her by the same. When people walk in we like to say “make yourself at home” because feeling comfortable is a big part of the experience we like to offer. A good business resembles a well-oiled machine and requires all its parts to work properly for things to run smoothly. Any one of our hardworking employees could have easily been chosen for this opportunity. So, I would like to thank them for being an awesome team and The Burg for being a respected establishment because without them this chance wouldn’t have been possible!
A big part of this opportunity is about the promotion of spreading kindness and giving back to the community. As a regular volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, an organization connected to our local All Children’s Hospital where families with sick children take refuge, I have been working with The Burg collecting soda tabs to donate as a way to raise funds. If I were chosen to win, I would continue our donation by hosting a philanthropic event partnered with The Burg, for all employees and customers, in which any proceeds gained would go to the Ronald McDonald House to help those families with sick children. Inevitably, a portion of the award would also go to paying off my nursing school so that I am able to graduate on time and begin my career. Lastly, the largest portion would go to my family. After almost 30 years of running a local restaurant and bar business we closed our doors in 2011 and are still in the process of getting back on our feet. The majority of the money would go to my family to help rebuild the “American Dream” that they built so long ago, opening a new restaurant, and enabling them to continue to practice philoxenia, and welcoming anyone that walks through the doors with a warm smile, and most importantly never having them leave hungry or unhappy.