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~ Op-Ed ~ Experience In Service

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By Patrick M. Keefe Jr., Acting Mayor


Among the countless conversations I’ve had with people during the campaign is one that recurs frequently: my experience in the food service / hospitality business and how that translates to a leadership role in a responsive and effective government.

While most of my constituents know me as a dad, coach, volunteer, Ward Councilor or – for the past six months – Acting Mayor, my livelihood since 2010 was Senior Director and later Director of Operations for Legal Sea Foods. Many Revere residents have a favorite Legal Sea Foods location in Boston or Somerville or at Lynnfield’s Market Street, but as Director of Operations, I oversaw the operation and financial management of all 24 Legal restaurants including locations in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island that produce over $200 million in annual revenue. I was involved in the planning, opening, and operation of every major lifestyle center in Massachusetts, such as Market Street, Assembly Row, the Seaport District, and more.

Some 3500 employees were under my supervision. I led management teams to appreciate the importance of their role within the overall business structure and assure outstanding performance at all employee levels. I created goals, rolled up my sleeves, and worked resolutely with stakeholders and rank-and-file employees alike to achieve those goals within cost controls, all the while prioritizing the customer and employee experience.

How does this relate to municipal government? Well, the Director of Operations in any large corporation is responsible for creating business strategy and achieving target results, and it was my responsibility to identify the opportunities for customer satisfaction and to optimize the company’s resources to meet the highest standards of the business, all within the structure of federal, state and local regulatory requirements. It was my job to study and analyze industry data and use that information to respond immediately to the needs of our guests and employees.

The system and philosophy that propelled Legal Sea Foods industry-leading performance are reliable methods to lead an enterprise that depends on customer satisfaction…such as city government.

Government, especially municipal government, is analogous to the hospitality industry. A Mayor is in every respect the Director of Operations of a city. Both must produce successful results and operate within a budget. Both function in a stressful environment that demands clear and focused judgment.

And both serve people who have high expectations of service and accommodation. Those people, whether they are taxpayers or diners in a restaurant, demand and deserve answers when they have questions, action when they have needs, and honesty when they have objections.

In my career as a Ward Councilor and my six months as Acting Mayor, I have always applied and acted upon the principles and qualities that served me successfully in my professional life in the hospitality industry. These are rooted in fairness, integrity, and the vitality to lead by example. It means that I show up to do the job and only measure success by achieving results.

In both the hospitality industry and government, inept leadership that boasts phony claims and exaggerated accomplishment will surely lead to failure. In government, failure happens on a large scale. It crushes the aspirations of an entire community. It abandons the thousands of people who rely on the government for public education, public safety, clean streets and thriving neighborhoods.

Revere deserves a Director of Operations with a forward vision and a genuine appreciation for customer satisfaction. I’ve done that in business, it needs to be done in government, and that’s why I am running for Mayor.

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