This time I bring you an interview with Rory Webb and Jeff Carey, owners of the Stone Mountain Public House, located off Main Street in Stone Mountain Village, Georgia.
The Value of Apprenticeship
Rory: “I only went to college for two weeks. In my second week I went to an off-premise lecture on apprenticeship and business management. And the speaker there said, ‘If you’re taking business management at the University, your professor is probably making $35,000 a year. And they’re trying to teach you how to become millionaires. You should think about that. Because if they really knew how to be that kind of entrepreneur they would be doing more than just teaching classes.’ He then said, ‘Go find somebody who is doing what you want to do and is successful at it. Tell them you will work for them for free if they teach you everything they know, and you can be them in 5 years.’
So I knew this gentleman who owned a hotel. He was 32 years old, a self-made millionaire. He bought a hotel that was totally run down and fixed it up, and he was really successful. I was introduced through a friend. We would go to one of the bars in the hotel and when the owner came out we were introduced. We spent some time together and I got to know him. He said, ‘I would love to have you work for free, but that’s kind of illegal. So I can pay you minimum wage.’
My first month I started by washing dishes. And I almost quit a couple of times thinking, ‘This is really crazy. What was I thinking?’ Then the second month I was cleaning the pool and sweeping the parking lot. Then the third month I was in the laundry room with housekeeping. I did all the worst jobs in the first 7 or 8 months. Then I was able to be a waiter and a bartender. I worked at the front desk doing the night audit, sitting in with accounting. About 2 years into this he called me into the office and said, ‘Our general manager is leaving and I’m making you general manager. And I’m going to pay you X amount and I’m going to make it retroactive to when you first started.’ So I got this really nice check. That was my introduction into the hospitality industry. I was the general manager for quite a while and there wasn’t an employee that could come to me and say, ‘You don’t understand.’ I may have only done their job for a month, but I still did it.”
Flexibility and Creativity
Jeff: “I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa but I went to college in Pennsylvania for my secondary music education. After I left there I worked for a church for 6 months in Ohio and realized it was not a good fit. In addition, my parents were there a lot even though I was 6 hours away. They were helping me to succeed, but they were also working through their own issues. Shortly after I left home they ended up getting a divorce. They had never developed their own relationship. That transition of coming to see me in Ohio was their last thing. So I wanted to escape everybody. I wanted to go where I could be independent. I left all that and moved to Florida. I moved to Fort Lauderdale. I had never been there and didn’t know what it was like, but friend of mine was going and I just moved. That’s where I met Rory.
Rory and I are both creators. He is mentally creative, and I’m physically creative. He will say, ‘We should have a train-themed bar,’ and I’ll say, ‘I’ll build it!’ Our creativity comes out in other ways too. We are always willing to reinvent ourselves to stay relevant. In fact, we first opened in Stone Mountain as a smoothie shop because there was a lot of bicycle traffic by our shop. We thought, ‘This will be great. We’ll have healthy smoothies to draw in this crowd.’ But we learned that most cyclists at the end of their ride want a beer. We know this because they come here now!”