Stone Hearth Pizza’s Klein oversees people, profits

Stone Hearth Pizza’s Klein oversees people, profits

It’s unusual in the restaurant industry to have the same person keeping an eye on the money and on the people, but at Stone Hearth Pizza Co. [3], a three-unit casual-dining chain based in Sudbury, Mass., Melissa Klein is director of both finance and front-of-the-house operations.

An eclectic job history prepared Klein for the dual role. She started waiting tables when she was 15 and continued as a server during and after college. She later managed restaurants in New York and Philadelphia. But when she became a single mom after a divorce, Klein left the industry in pursuit of steady, day-time hours. She took a job as a bookkeeper. One of her clients was Christopher Robbins, who, with partner Jonathan Schwarz, was opening the first Stone Hearth Pizza. They hired Klein last spring to work full time for Stone Hearth.

How do you handle managing both finance and human resources?

People do have a perspective that they are two very different worlds, and in some respects, they are. I love numbers. I like the clarity of them. It’s like a jigsaw.

But I’m also an extrovert. I love people. I’m social and chatty. I never liked being in an office crunching numbers. I’m getting the best of both worlds. The two complement each other well.

In what ways?

I do the payroll, so I see the overtime hours. When talking to our store managers about doing the schedules, I can teach them about structure and consistency. When I go over the P & L with them, I can teach store managers what their numbers mean and how it impacts their stores and how they can manage [their staff] to keep down those costs.

Do you think you will be able to keep this dual position as the company grows?

I may eventually give up the finance part. I like HR. It’s a lot of fun. It can be a headache and stress, but it’s the best feeling when you can work things out for people’s benefit. Whether it’s untangling an insurance issue, or promoting someone, the feeling of helping people reach their potential is huge.