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Tyler Wolf, cook/server/and jack-of-all trades

What is unique about working for an independently owned restaurant?

I think it’s nice for the employees of independent restaurant like ours to see that the owners’ hearts are in it. And you see that directly. It’s not like you have to write off for permission to do this or that. You just walk into the kitchen and we’ll come up with an idea and we’ll do it that night, or that weekend. It’s a very hands-on experience and the employees get to be a part of it, and that’s what builds the character of this restaurant and other independent restaurants in general. That very hands-on feel is something the customers can sense. I get the same feeling when I go to other independent restaurants. You can tell people care.

Talk about the flexibility you have to be creative and try new things at an indie like Capital Club 16.

In a lot of larger places, everything is sometimes written in stone, while there is often a lot of room for experimentation in an independent restaurant, and I think that’s great. If you want to try something, you try it and see what happens. There are four to five heads in the kitchen, there are a few servers, so when you’re bouncing stuff off of other people who work here, you never know what the end product might be. The best course is to get other people’s advice and ideas, and kind of meld your own finished product out of that. There’s freedom to knowing that everybody’s thoughts and ideas are valued here. Everybody’s input matters.

Missy Sale, server

Why have you only worked at indie restaurants during your 10 years in the restaurant business?

I like working in these boutique-style, family-run restaurants, where it’s not only like a family, but almost a club, and it kind of becomes your lifestyle. And in places like Capital Club 16, I can dabble in many parts of the business. There’s not a chain of command that is inaccessible. I can be mentored by and work with anybody here on any aspect of the business. I get to dabble in everything from serving, hosting, and bartending to expo kitchen work to finance. I think that exposure is really important, and often times not accessible to people who work in large corporate environments or these large business models. I’m really learning what it’s like to run a small business from top to bottom, every day.

Also, there’s a sense of accountability that I think everyone feels at a place like Capital Club. You know the person who runs the business. You trust them. You respect them. And you believe in what they are doing. And I think with that level of accountability that everybody has, it does something special for the restaurant.

Does it feel like being a part of a family when you are part of an indie restaurant?

Yes, it does here. Jake and Shannon treat us all like family. It’s one of their core values. They’re building this dream, and they want to bring everybody in. They’ve always treated us all with a tremendous amount of respect and patience, and I think what goes around comes around.

We look forward to capturing the thoughts, philosophies,and stories of a few of the many amazing, hard-working, inspiring people that own and work for independent restaurants through our upcoming video series. The first installment, “The people of Capital Club 16,” will launch in April on restaurant-hospitality.com.

Wil Brawley is a partner at Schedulefly, a company that provides restaurants with Web-based staff-scheduling and communication software. He is the author of the book Restaurant Owners Uncorked: Twenty Owners Share Their Recipes for Success and producer of the Restaurant Owners Uncorked video series.