Mercyhurst Magazine Fall 2022

Casual or fancy, Kevin Riordan ’08 knows his seafood, and more

which was managed by Four Seasons Hotels. I worked my way up from assistant restaurant manager to food and beverage

Slip into a plush leather booth and dine on Sauteed Lake Michigan Whitefish or belly up to the Oyster Bar and feast on raw oysters from all over the U.S. Whether you are looking to go formal or casual, Shaw’s Crab House in downtown Chicago fits the bill for both—one of many reasons it is consistently ranked one of the top seafood restaurants in the country. Keeping Shaw’s high atop those lists is the charge of Mercyhurst alumnus Kevin Riordan ’08, who has served as general manager there for the past five years. The Chicago native came to Mercyhurst with a water polo scholarship and a passion for hospitality. What he remembers most of his college years is the level of connection and engagement from faculty and coaches. “They always made sure I was focused on the long-term goals,” he said. “I was very lucky to have great mentors in the classroom and in the pool.” His first Mercyhurst internship—at the Pompano Beach Club in Bermuda—whet his appetite for upscale establishments and strengthened an already robust work ethic. “I worked my way through lots of kitchens before deciding to move on to ‘front of house’ operations,” he said. “I always had a goal of working for luxury hotels and was provided my first opportunity at The Ritz Carlton Chicago,

department head. I worked in some of the best hotels in the U.S. as well as Canada during my time with Four Seasons. My finest achievement was being voted Manager of the Year at the Ritz Carlton Chicago.”

Along came the opportunity to manage Shaw’s Crab House, a position where he continues to flourish. “Shaw’s reached the Top 30 list for top grossing independent restaurants in the United States multiple times over the past five years,” he said. “We also achieved annual gross revenues of over $18 million multiple times.”

Through it all, he credits his success to making the workplace feel like “a family,” and to “creating consistent, memorable, and genuine experiences for my guests and employees.” RE RECIPES FOR SUCCESS

Sam Veneziano ’75: Goal-driven from the get-go

success beginning with the hands-on

nature of Mercyhurst’s Hospitality program. “Companies value the fact that someone has really worked ‘in the trenches’ and not just studied theories and practices,”

By Kristian Biega

As a senior in the first graduating class of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Mercyhurst, Sam Veneziano ’75 was instructed to write down three career goals. He hoped to own his own restaurant, teach hospitality, and work for a large company. Little did he know he would accomplish all three goals within his first 10 years as a professional, and quickly advance to a global, dynamic career in the hospitality industry. Following graduation, he managed his father’s restaurant, Barnie’s, for five years while teaching hospitality courses at Mercyhurst College. Veneziano began working for Marriott in Washington, D.C., and soon was named general manager of the seventh established Courtyard by Marriott in the nation. “My career has been more amazing than I could have imagined. My goal was to work in Pittsburgh, and I ended up working around the entire world,” Veneziano said. Veneziano has worked in nearly every U.S. state, opened hotels in Europe and Hong Kong, and even taken trips with Marriott executives to the Super Bowl and Master’s Tournaments. He attributes his industry

Veneziano said. From his career,

Veneziano’s most important piece of advice to aspiring hospitality professionals is to be adaptable and willing to try roles outside their comfort zone. “You just need to be flexible and willing to move around for this industry. In this industry, you should diversify your skills by working in all aspects of hospitality from housekeeping to front desk to marketing and management,” Veneziano said. “Hospitality is needed everywhere, so there is a world of opportunities.”


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