Employees Management Montana Restaurants Small Business

Hire that punk kid with the snowboard? Are you nuts???

This weekend, I met the manager of my favorite local Italian restaurant. Somehow, I had managed to miss meeting him during my last few visits and was a bit surprised at how young this guy is.

He had just returned from Boise, where he had trained the staff and management at their newest location. He spoke of the night before as a zero mistake night in the kitchen (ie: no free meals to make up for mistakes) and how it was the third best business day of the busy summer season.

He’s in culinary school as well, and loving everything he learns from his “wizard teacher”, noting that “she’s amazing…knows everything. She doesn’t take any stuff from anyone”.

In his spare time, he’s a pro snowboarder who finishes 1st in many of the pro events on the local ski mountain, including a qualifying event for the X-Games (having trouble finding results on that one). Everyone who knows him knows his reputation on the slopes.

Last winter, he stumbled upon a skier who had slashed open his thigh, leaving a deep cut that was bleeding profusely. He rounded up 2 other skiers to put pressure on the wound, skinned back up the hill to mark the downed skier’s line with his poles so others wouldn’t hit the skier and those assisting him, boarded down to the ski patrol, returned to the scene, then after the ski patrol medical team patched up the skier, he drove him to the emergency room.

How did I meet him? I just happened to have the honor of handing his Eagle certificate to him, as one of the troops in Whitefish asked me to help officiate his Eagle Scout ceremony.

Yep. According to the calendar, Dar Johnston is just a 17 year old kid.

You should be so lucky to have “punk snowboarder” like Dar managing your restaurant. This polite, easy-going guy is going places, with or without the snowboard.

He took and passed his GED (high school equivalency exam) last year because the Whitefish School District wouldn’t let him make up work when he had be absent to travel to pro snowboard events. Shedding the time constraints of high school allowed him time to focus on culinary school and move up the management chain at Mambo Italiano in Whitefish without missing snowboard events.

There is a part of high school he does miss, of course. The girls.

Most everyone else is lamenting how kids these days are lousy employees and don’t care about anything but iPods and such. Despite that, the best Italian restaurant in the Flathead managed to find one. What is it about the best that makes them work a little harder, look a little farther and find staffers like this?

No doubt, there’s a kid in your neighborhood with similar skills and hunger. Open your eyes. Where are you looking for your next great staffer?

Might be that punk kid on the snowboard.

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