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Nation's Restaurant News 2023 Power List Brad Hudson Seasons 52
Brad Hudson has been at the Buford, Ga., Seasons 52 since the restaurant opened in 2019.

Brad Hudson makes intentional choice to be a leader at Seasons 52

The restaurant general manager nurtures community within his team

Brad Hudson, managing partner of the Seasons 52 in Buford, Ga., has turned his restaurant into a vital pillar of the community over the past four years.

Hudson was on the opening team of the restaurant, which debuted in the community northeast of Atlanta in June 2019. He was promoted from service manager to managing partner seven months later.

“What it really takes to be a great managing partner is leadership,” said Hudson, 35, who oversees a team of about 100 employees.

“Leadership is a choice,” he added. “You have to choose to wake up and be a leader every day — and care for those in your charge.”

Charlotte Hopkins, Seasons 52’s director of operations for the East Coast, said Hudson possesses the traits the 43-unit brand of Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants looks for in a managing partner.

“We look for individuals who have an ownership mentality and create a results-driven atmosphere,” Hopkins said. “They do this through their people. So [managing partners] are responsible for creating great food, service, atmosphere, and then doing this through hiring great people and training them to focus on retaining their people.” She added that managing partners have their names on the door of the restaurant.

Further, the company reports that the managing partner is responsible for making sure the management team is aligned on all daily deliverables. That includes upholding service and cleanliness standards plus maintaining clear communication and food quality. It also requires meeting core values and principles of service, which for Darden is “running a shift with respect, integrity, courage, excellence, and teamwork.”

“He's very focused on training, and that shows in his lower turnover numbers in our restaurant, which allows him to provide exceptional guest experiences through his people,” Hopkins said.

Hudson said hospitality has been a lifelong part of his life.

“My father, my mentor, has been in the restaurant industry his entire life,” Hudson said, “and I got to watch him succeed in so many different ways.

“The restaurant industry was always fascinating to me,” he added. “I was reading P&L's at 16 years old with him and understanding the business. I got to watch his people-first mentality, and he always taught me to strive to be the elected leader and not just the appointed one.”

The restaurant industry is a great outlet for a dedicated “people person,” he said.

The Buford Seasons 52 is a bit smaller than typical units in the brand, without private-dining space, but Hudson has found ways to get around that.

“In that location,” Hopkins said, “we don't have the opportunity to do private dining, which is a large part of the Seasons 52 business. … He's been a phenomenal steward of the community. He knows everyone in Buford, from law enforcement to local guests who are just coming in every week, and he's built those relationships.

“He has so much repeat business,” she added. “It's really hard to get in there on a Saturday. He does a great job just having guests make it that local restaurant that you want to go to once a week instead of once a month or once every two months.”

Hudson also nurtures community within his team, he said.

“When we put our people first, they'll put the guests first,” he said. “It's really all easy from there. At the end of the day, I'm nothing without the people in my charge, and that's what I really think it takes to be a great managing partner, is to know that and know that at the end of the day I work for them they don't work for me. It's my job to give them a place they feel safe, and we want to come to work every day and give them a purpose.

“For us, it's making sure the guests feel a little bit better about themselves just for having spent time with us,” he said. “When we deliver on that purpose, it's a win every day.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

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