Saddle Brook 2013: I came, I saw, I conquered

(This is the final post in a series detailing my work trip to Saddle Brook, New Jersey.)

First off, I apologize for not blogging as much as I would have liked to. I was working too much and seemingly didn’t have enough time to sleep, let alone write. Therefore, I write this from the airplane on my way back home. (Postscript: this was written from the airplane, but I am just now posting it.)

To explain the Saddle Brook opening in one sentence is pretty simple: Thank goodness it’s over.

I just my fifth opening, I was moved up to Back of House Team Leader. As thankful and grateful I am for the opportunity to be a corporate trainer is one thing, but to become team leader and succeed (at least I feel I did well) is an honor. I was blessed with an amazing staff of trainers, a few of which I had worked with previously, but together they made my job much easier than it could have been.

My life could have been a nightmare, and at times it seemed like it was. After the first week, things were rolling pretty well, with the exception of half of the training team being delayed due to weather. Then the second week — the week full of training and very long days — I almost lost it. The last night of the week, as I was sitting down trying to figure out time sheets for my trainers to send to the VP, I was struggling hardcore and almost broke down from stress. I was overwhelmed.

I guess I was not mentally prepared for my role; I had more duties and responsibilities than I originally imagined. However, with a steady supply of caffeine I was able to get things figured out and lower my stress level. Looking back, now that I have one opening as team leader under my belt, I know what to expect for this next one so I don’t make the same mistakes.

Bennigan’s Saddle Brook

Even before training started three weeks ago, the Bennigan’s Saddle Brook Facebook Page had over 1,100 likes, a response much more than expected. The location is the same building as the Bennigan’s before the bankruptcy in 2008. Some of the former employees returned and one former employee is now an assistant manager. He, just like the rest of the North Jersey community, was excited for the revival of the brand. It is the only place to dine out in the neighborhood, so the business should do very well.

Speaking of the management, the owners have great vision for Saddle Brook and New Jersey. With plans to open more locations in the future, I hope I get the privilege of working with them for their other locations; they’re great people and I wish them the best of luck in their Bennigan’s business ventures.


The managers are a good group of people with tons of experience in the restaurant business, not only as employees but managers as well. They, along with the owners, have a strong vision and plans for the future of Bennigan’s in Saddle Brook and surrounding areas.

The restaurant itself looks awesome. I has a modern, industrial feel to it with an open dining area and exposed, chrome air ducts. The bar area is tremendous. Situated in the middle of the restaurant, the bar is the centerpiece of the Bennigan’s Saddle Brook experience, complete with 32 beers on tap.

The kitchen is a story in and of itself, which will be their handcuff. The food window is roughly eight feet long and 18 inches wide, which isn’t even close to what the store needs to handle the volume they had in just the first week and what they expect to do in sales on a weekly basis.

But with time, the kitchen will be more efficient and keep the guests happy. The reviews after the first week were mixed, about 50/50 with good and bad remarks, but like I said before, the biggest handcuff is in the kitchen but all the kinks will be worked out soon.

With a wide array of personalities that mix and work well together, the staff is a great group of people. From the hosts, to the servers and bartenders, to the line cooks, prep cooks and dish guys, I wish them nothing but the best as the first Bennigan’s back in New Jersey. The potential they have as a staff and location is limitless, and I really hope they’re able to pull in the $100,000+ per week they envision.

Other than Dubai, this was the hardest group to leave because I got to spend so much time with them over the last three weeks; it’s like I made 100+ more friends that I’m leaving behind.

To my family at Bennigan’s Saddle Brook, I will see you soon.

Until next time …


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