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The Power List
Nation's Restaurant News 2023 Power List Christ Scott The Capital Grille
Under Chris Scott’s leadership in the last year, the Boston Capital Grille had zero management turnover and the lowest culinary-staff turnover in the brand.

Chris Scott sees himself as a keeper of Boston Capital Grille culture

20-year managing partner leads his team with care and empathy

Chris Scott, managing partner of The Capital Grille in Boston, has a long history of developing other leaders and leading his own team with care and empathy.

“I often tell people I manage two types of people: the people that work for me and the people that I work for — so the guests that come through the front door and also the staff that we have here for us to create those memorable relationships and dining experiences and EDGE experiences that we have with our guests,” said the 51-year-old Scott, who has been managing partner of the Boston location for 20 years.

EDGE is The Capital Grille’s philosophy, an acronym for “Exceptional Distinctive Guest Experience,” said Ron Adelman, senior vice president for the 65-unit fine-dining division of Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants. The Capital Grille is in 60 cities and 26 states.

“A great EDGE culture usually means a great restaurant,” Adelman said. “When I think about the best of the best, I think about Chris Scott and the culture that he's created in that restaurant — the way that he treats his team members, his guests, his managers. The financial results come along once you get that great culture.”

When looking for managing partner candidates, Adelman said he looks for outstanding communication skills and empathetic leadership.

“That's another thing that Chris does really well,” Adelman said. “He truly cares about his team members. And when you care about your team members, they will go above and beyond to make sure they make you look good.”

Scott is quick to credit what Adelman calls the management trilogy, which at the Boston Capital Grille includes Penny Maso, the location’s sales director, and David Cox, the executive chef and partner with whom Scott has worked for more than two decades.

“The three of us together really are the gatekeepers of that culture,” Scott said. “And we're the ones that want to make sure that we provide the environment that not only our employees want to be part of, but that our guests want to be part of as well.”

The top duty for the GM, Scott added, is to be the gatekeeper of the business and to set the culture. The leadership team needs to not only mesh together and work well with each other, he said, but also take care of the guests.

Scott treats his team like family, serving a full breakfast in the morning, a family meal at 3 p.m., and one additional meal in the evening for the kitchen team.

“It's really important to create an environment that people want to be part of,” Scott said. “And when your staff members know that they're going to get treated like family and that we care about them, they're going to be doing meaningful work. … They're less likely to leave you.”

In the last year, the Boston Capital Grille had zero management turnover and the lowest culinary-staff turnover in the brand, the company said. The 300-seat unit has 75 employees and eight managers.

Those low turnover rates come from knowing the team, Scott said.

“It’s understanding who they are, what drives them,” he said. “You need to know the prep cook in the back who's having problems with his son or the spouse of a of a line cook who's been sick lately. You can only get that by spending time with people and really showing that you care, that it's not just a robotic answer. You need to really care about the people that you're leading.”

Also key to Scott’s success? His work-life balance, he said, which requires discipline and scheduling.

“The restaurant business isn't something that I could run from my laptop from my couch,” he said. “I have to be here in the dining room every day, interacting with staff members, making sure that I'm here when all the regular guests are here. But like anything, what gets scheduled gets done. If there are important things going on at home with my children, things like that get put on the calendar. …  I have to be happy at home if I'm going to come here and create a happy environment for our staff to work in.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

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