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Here's the Deal: Jay Hill shares that there's more to being a chef than what we see on TV. But first...
THE HEART OF HOSPITALITY
HOW SARAH DINGER WENT FROM BARTENDER TO BRAND MANAGER
STORY BY BECCA SIMON
On any given day of the week, Sarah Dinger can be found jet setting across the country to one of 45 My Place hotel locations or any number of new prospective locations. As the senior vice president of brand management, Sarah is charged with growing the brand.

But she didn't start at the top.

So how did she go from employee to an influential name in the hospitality industry?
Odds are you’re familiar with a certain hotel chain — Super 8 Motels, aka the world’s largest budget hotel chain.

But, no, that's not where her career began.

Sarah, like most people, started small as a server and bartender at Robbie’s, an Aberdeen staple that closed in 2005.

The Aberdeen native fell in love with the ability to work with and serve others.

"I found my calling in the hospitality
industry, and I never looked back," she said. 

Another job as a server and then manager at Wild Oats Sports Bar and Grill — which closed in 2014 — led to a fateful and lasting friendship with the Rivett family, who owned the restaurant, as well as Super 8.

In fact, Ron Rivett co-founded the chain in Aberdeen with Dennis Brown in 1974. Since the first location opened in 1974, the chain has expanded to over 2,800 locations across the globe.
Banking on that success, Ron and his grandson Ryan sought to form another affordable hotel chain suitable to both long and short-term stays.

“When the My Place opportunity was
presented to me, I knew without hesitation
that I wanted to be a part of it,” Sarah said.

Excited about the vision behind My Place, Sarah became the very first employee and worked directly with Ryan Rivett to bring the dream to life.

It was 2012. At that time, there was only one property in Dickinson, N.D., with another property in the works in Minot, N.D. Sarah wore multiple hats and took on every task, from creating and organizing the company’s brand standards to going out on the road to open new locations.
“It was anything from sales and marketing to managing and operations,” she said.

As one might expect, starting a national hotel chain from the ground up is no easy feat. Every day, Sarah stays exceptionally busy trying to keep all the plates spinning. Her primary role as a brand manager is to continue to build the standards for the company, which encompasses multiple layers across many departments.

She provides resources to franchisees starting their own My Place locations, works with guest relations, assists with product research development and much more.
“It’s taking what we know, what others know, and making the most of it,” Sarah said.

Although it’s a great responsibility, the personal and professional relationships she forms on the job are what drive her forward.

“It’s all about the people,” she said.
“The hospitality industry is really about giving,
and that’s what I love to do.”
As a leader, Sarah views herself as part of the team. She leads from experience, and she never asks her team to do something she hasn’t done already.

“It’s really about passion and hard work and setting your mind to what you want to achieve,” Sarah said. “It’s about the goals, and working around the same like-minded individuals."

Sarah has been featured multiple times in Hotel Management, a national trade magazine. Last year, she was named as one of 2018's "Most Influential Women in Hospitality."

Today, My Place continues to grow at a rapid pace. The company is within weeks of opening its 45th location in Hastings, Neb., and they are already on track to opening 50 locations by the summer. 
"It’s all very, very exciting," Sarah said. "We are
a very close-knit team and our franchisees
become family to us. It’s family. It’s teamwork."
Photos courtesy of My Place Hotels and @myplacehotels Instagram.
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SO YOU THINK YOU CAN COOK?
Maybe you’ve seen all 16 seasons of Top Chef, or maybe you think your creations could hold their own next to superstar chef Bobby Flay’s. Or maybe you’re a home-cook who would love to make a profit out of your hobby someday.

Working as a chef is an admirable career choice, but it’s not quite as glamorous as TV makes it look.

Jay Hill, the head chef at Maverick’s Steak and Cocktails , shares some of the realities of his job.
Cooking is just the beginning
When you’re watching shows like Master Chef, you often only see the fun part.

As a head chef, you’re also responsible for health and sanitation, inventory, budgeting, and plain ol’ doing the dishes.

“There’s a lot more getting your hands dirty, cleaning out the grease trap when it gets clogged up,” Jay said. “You spend a lot of time just sitting in front of a computer looking at excel spreadsheets.”
It can hurt
Working as a chef means Jay spends entire days on his feet in a kitchen upwards of 100 degrees. The kitchen is loud and noisy, and injuries can happen.

“On busy nights, you get your butt kicked for four hours, but you feel good about making it through that and doing an awesome job.”
You have to be a leader
As the top dog, you are responsible for teaching younger cooks.

“It’s your obligation when you have people who want to learn,” Jay said. “Try to give them every bit of knowledge you have to help them succeed.”
At the end of the day, it's totally worth it
When Jay isn’t managing the kitchen, he gets to come up with new exciting dishes.

Recently, Jay experimented with a new lunch menu unlike anything else in town. He pulls from ingredients that are common to the region when he comes up with new recipes.

“I wanted more unique sandwiches that weren’t too exotic but still focused on good flavor and ideas,” he said.
Next week: Miciah Mueller turned his beard into a business.

He had an idea and ran with it. Learn how he's saving the world, one soft beard at a time.
That's next week in The Square Deal!
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NO. 5 ◼️ VOL. 1 ◼️ FEB. 20, 2019