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Hanover Talks with Marc Milowsky

Aug 23, 2011 06:19PM ● By Erin Frisch

Marc Milowsky

He makes restaurants his business

If the restaurant business is like show business, Marc Milowsky is one of the region’s leading directors and producers. “You get to create a set, pick the actors, and put on a show every night,” says the owner of Upper Valley dining institutions Jesse’s, Molly’s, and Lui Lui. A New Jersey native, Milowsky attended the University of Vermont with plans to go to medical school, but he got hooked on hospitality while waiting tables at a steakhouse. There Milowsky discovered his career and met his future wife, Patty. The couple cofounded Jesse’s Steaks, Seafood, and Tavern in 1976. Thirty-five years later, Milowsky says he wouldn’t change a thing.

What was your favorite job as a teenager?

Working in a recording studio in New York City. I got to sit in on some sessions with James Brown, Benny Goodman, the Tonight Show orchestra, and others.

How would you describe your management style? Are you “hands-on” or do you delegate well?

My management style is a combination of hands-on and delegation. I believe it is important for our team members to take ownership in the restaurants, but I am usually around the restaurants to support them when and if they need it.

How do you recruit and retain strong employees in a tight Upper Valley labor market?

Our goal is to be the best restaurant employer in the Upper Valley. We feel our wage and benefit packages are the best around. More than that we encourage a family style of management and are committed to treating our team members as well as we treat our guests. If our team is happy they will perform at the highest level and that results in happy guests.

What are some exciting new enhancements that clients can anticipate at your restaurants?

Our menu development in all of our stores continues to reach higher and higher levels. We are using more locally grown products, and at Jesse’s, we’re now growing our own herbs and produce in our gardens. Molly’s will be opening up a fire pit on our patio for the late summer and fall. All three Upper Valley restaurants now offer entertainment.

How did you develop the live entertainment series?

I’ve loved music since the days I traveled to Woodstock. There is such a great community of talented musicians in the Upper Valley. When we first opened Jesse’s in 1976, we had live music every weekend. Somehow we got too serious and drifted away to concentrate on the dining only. I’ve loosened up the last few years and have enjoyed getting back into providing music for our guests as well as income and opportunity for the performers—plus I love getting up there with them and doing a few songs.

How does your business support local non-profits?

We try to donate to as many local charities as our budget will allow. Two of the ones that we have very close relationships with are the Friends of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center and the Haven.

What was it like living with four daughters and a wife in the Milowsky household?

Coming from a family of 30 boys in a row, having all those girls was a life-changing experience. In the early days, there was only one bathroom for the six of us in our house. Try sharing a bathroom with five women! I also learned how to be a really patient shopper. I love all of my women. They have brought me more joy than anyone could ever ask for.

Is your mustache a permanent feature, or does it come and go?

Funny you should ask about the mustache. It is gone for the foreseeable future. It was getting too gray. My wife said, “Why not dye it?” I passed and shaved it instead.

Written by by Mark Dantos

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