Interview with Dean Leisman, Pitch Pizzeria

Excellence + Good Vibes don't happen by accident, they are the result of hard work and a standout team. I stopped by Pitch one afternoon to take a quick photo of the team for a social media post. As they circled up, they casually made sure that their prep staff and dishwashers were front and center. The appreciation shown to their support crew was remarkable. I can't say I've ever seen that before. 

We sat down with Dean Leisman, a partner, and you might say, the Team Captain at Pitch. He's also a heck of a lot of fun to drink wine with. 
-Alison Hult



What inspired you to work in the restaurant industry?

I wanted to be a federal agent. 

The guys I worked for (for 23 yrs) asked me to stay in the industry when I was finishing school; I've never wanted to be an owner. I've never wanted to own a restaurant. I want to help people get to another level in their careers. I want us all to be successful. I told people many years ago when someone says they are buying their first car or a home because of all the hard work we did together at the restaurant . . . That's why I do it.

I knew I'd never be an engineer or a doctor. But I still wanted to be a professional; I want people to know that being a professional server or bartender is okay. I want to give them a place to do that. 

I also know in this industry I can be a stepping stone, I'm okay with that — as long as when you step off, you take something very positive and you leave something very positive.


What are your biggest challenges? 

My biggest challenge is myself. I'm very passionate about what I do, sometimes to a fault. I can't imagine what it would be like if I were a doctor; the passion I have for green beans is scary (ha!).

I challenge myself to get the right people. I focus on people. I'd rather work short than work fully staffed with the wrong staff. 

I want people to truly understand the experience of this restaurant and how diligently I challenge myself to get it exactly as I want it to be for them.


What makes your restaurant(s) stand out? 


The greatest compliment I ever received from a guest was that they love coming here because they forget what day of the week it is.

That's because of the people. If you do the right things and perform together beautifully as a team, the economics will follow and support your efforts.

We have an executive chef team that is so passionate about what they do. I need the people (servers+bartenders) who want to take the time to explain what the customer will be experiencing. We run small sections because sharing this deliciousness and guiding a table through their meal takes time and care. We are flexible with our team, you can see their self expression in how they dress; I don't need to give them rules because they want to be here. They want to represent the accomplishments of the kitchen. 

Brands do not make people, people make brands.

Clean stores, perfect food, great service -- if you miss on one, the other two won't matter - they'll leave remembering the one you missed.


Brands do not make people, people make brands.


What motivates you to wake up and continue doing what you do? 

We have a great wine list, so I know I can start drinking as soon as I get here - kidding!!!

It goes back to the energy, it's not an act for me, I'm 100 mph all the time, I'm protective about my people, and my environment. 

I'm excited because I get to watch people grow--when I see a host or a dishwasher stepping up to lead expo, or working at prep and then moving up to sauté or a dishwasher developing into a server, that's what it's about — you can have the best dishwasher in the world, shame on you if you make him a dishwasher for life. 


Favorite item to order at your restaurants? 

Besides wine?

I am not a foodie — but — I have grown to so appreciate great food, our executive chef team has made me a foodie.

Everything has earned its way on that menu . . . (grimacing) it's impossible for me to answer this!!!


One word of advice for anyone looking to do what you do?  



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