This is Arthur Palacio, the Coach Operator (CO) at Dos Toros West Village. Arthur was raised in College Point, Queens and says that being in a Colombian family, food was always a part of his lifestyle growing up. His mom, grandma and dad cook every day and although he’s never had formal culinary training, he’s always felt that food was a part of his identity. He started working in the food industry during college at a bagel shop/bakery in Florida and continued to grow his cooking skills after college when he lived in Miami. When he moved back to New York, he worked as a server in a catering hall and then as a parking attendant when his friend, who was working at the first Dos Toros location in Union Square, told him there was an opening in the store and that he should apply to be a part of this new company. Arthur was attracted to Dos Toros because they focus on hiring people with good personalities rather than kitchen skills and he felt like this was a company that he could grow with. In 2011, two years after they opened their first location, Arthur started working at Dos Toros as a crew member and little by little worked his way up to Coach Operator, the highest position in their store. Not only has Dos Toros allowed Arthur to create his own path in the food industry, the opportunity that he was given to become a leader now motivates him to help create the same opportunities for other men and women.
Arthur says that the culture at Dos Toros is different from other restaurants because Leo and Oliver have created a fun but focused work environment since the company began. They don’t take any shortcuts with their food or their team and are known for teaching by example. Every so often they can even be found in one of their restaurants, working alongside their employees. They care so much about their business that they take the time to teach their employees to do things the right way and expect their Coach Operators to do the same. Even creating the title of Coach Operator, Arthur points out, makes them stand out from their competitors with what they expect from their team. Rather than a General Manager who only oversees operations, a Coach Operator works side by side with every member of their team every day, coaching them through changes going on in the store, teaching them about ingredients and making sure that they’re following the correct procedures, all while operating the store. It was this commitment to their employees that made Arthur interested in working for Dos Toros and what’s kept him at the company for the past eight years. After starting as a crew member, he got his kitchen certification and his line certification before getting certified as a coach. From there he decided to become an assistant manager (you can also become a kitchen assistant manager if you want to focus more on kitchen operations), a CO in training and then, finally, a CO for the entire store. The CO training process can take anywhere from six months to a year, depending on the person, but Arthur was committed to finishing his training because he knew from the day that he started that he wanted to grow with the company. He didn’t see any growth in the jobs he was doing before Dos Toros and saw potential in Leo and Oliver’s mission to bring California taqueria-style food to New York.
As a CO, Arthur tries to make it fun to come to work, rather than being “the boss” whose telling his employees what to do. He recognizes that they all have a job to do when they get to the store every day but that you can still make the environment fun and inviting while getting the work done. He sees the CO position as not only being a coach, but also being a teacher and an adviser, so he works alongside his coworkers on the line or in the kitchen every day to motivate and inspire them with his commitment to the job. He trains his employees to understand and exude their three core values: respect (of each other, the food and the customers), genuine warmth (creating a positive experience for customers and each other) and uncompromising expertise (follow every procedure, no shortcuts) and tries to be an example of each of them, despite any difficulties that may arise. He creates personal connections with each employee and takes pride in hiring and training new employees who he feels are friendly and have a good attitude. Arthur wanted to become a leader at Dos Toros to give other people the opportunity to build their own career paths. He found that a lot of high school students or men and women working straight out of high school have difficulty finding a job because they don’t have any experience. Arthur looks to hire these people that like cooking or are interested in food and teach them the steps to take in order to succeed in the food industry. Even if they don’t want to work in food for the rest of their life, he tries to give them a chance to find a new path and make it fun for them to be part of the team. For Arthur, helping the staff grow in their career is the most rewarding part of the job. From asking him if they can get their line certification to actually achieving that first step and continuing from there, as a leader and a coach, there’s nothing more satisfying to him than watching them start that process and seeing it through.
The training process for new employees really encourages career growth, which is something that Arthur loves about Dos Toros. It’s a seven day training where they learn each process for the front of house and for the back of house and then work side by side with Arthur and his managers to master each process and get certified in different stations. However, before that process begins Arthur will sit down with the new hire on the first day to figure out if they have kitchen experience/are interested in working in the kitchen or want to work on the line, so that they can focus their role once they’ve completed their training. They have online training as a tool for new employees to use where they watch videos about each process and then get hands-on experience doing them. For Arthur personally, Dos Toros has improved his culinary skills, teaching him knife skills like chopping and cutting as well as how to butcher meat. For him, the training process shows how much Leo and Oliver care for their team because they want to teach you these skills, they don’t expect you to have them. They only want employees who are willing to work hard and are happy to create relationships with their coworkers and their customers.
Arthur admits that coming into the store with a good attitude every day is the most challenging part of his job. As with any job, you can’t let your personal life interfere with your work but especially so when you’re interacting with other people (coworkers and customers) on a continuous basis. As human beings, everyone has tough times that they go through and has personal things going on that other people don’t know about so “putting that on the shelf” until you get home can be difficult. But for Arthur, making sure that he has a good energy every day to transmit to the other employees is key and his ability to have a smile on his face no matter what, or at least pretend that he’s happy, is one trait that, as a CO, he hopes he’s able to pass on to his fellow mangers and employees. A lot of his staff are young and they’ll often come to him for advice, so he enjoys that his role allows them to see him as a peer and that he’s able to problem solve with them. If he senses that something is off with one of his coworkers, he or one of his managers will pull him or her aside to make sure that everything is okay and will change their position for the day if needed. He loves that Dos Toros has created an inviting environment where every employee can be open and really feels like he or she is part of a larger team, working towards a common goal. As for his advice for others looking to get into the food industry, he encourages anyone and everyone to come work for Dos Toros. Even if you don’t have any experience in food, he says “just do it and don’t be scared”. Especially at Dos Toros, they teach you everything that you need to know and once you understand the process behind the work, it’s pretty amazing and rewarding.
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