By Charles Morgan III
It is the day after Labor Day. Today is one of the two days a year we take off at Harbor Docks. Sorta. Our staff spends the day in a massive, deep-cleaning mode. Tonight we’ll party. The highlight of the party will once again, undoubtedly, be my karaoke performance. Fortunately, we’ll also give out bonuses.
Everyone has gotten a bonus, of varying amounts, even in some years when we’ve had to borrow money from the bank. That may be one of the reasons that people often say we don’t hire people at Harbor Docks, we adopt them.
Retention of our staff is probably what makes us special. We’re proud that when every business in town has flashing signs—“NOW HIRING – ALL POSITIONS”—Harbor Docks’ sign is quiet.
We’re also fortunate to have had many employees who have gone on to spectacularly successful careers in the restaurant industry.
Tom Morales has several giant operations in Nashville that are among the most profitable in the country.
Robert St. John has taken over the town of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, with a variety of award winning restaurants.
Kevin Boehm has more than a dozen restaurants in Chicago that have month-long waiting lists for reservations.
We’re plenty proud of those guys. But we’re just as proud of the wonderful people we have worked with, shoulder to shoulder, for many years.
Steve Williams and Dang McCormick have been at Harbor Docks for 37 years. Mike Seevers, Ann Jones, Shannon Johnson and Tony Martin have been here for 35 years. Jackie Tway has worked at Harbor Docks since she was 13 years old. That was 31 years ago.
Duster Strawbridge has patrolled our kitchen for 26 years. Yoshie Eddings has served millions of sushi rolls in the since 1992. Sunshine McCollister has been serving for more than 20 years.
The list of people who have been here for more than 10 years would fill up this column.
Currently we have people representing 11 different countries working at Harbor Docks. Those of us who don’t travel often can learn a lot about this world from the people we work with. In a country where fear and resentment of people from different continents and cultures often runs rampant, I can relate one thing I have learned working with people from other countries. People are nice. Their country of origin doesn’t seem to matter.
We have always hired people regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality or sexual orientation. We don’t care if people are homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, trisexual, transsexual or anything else.
Choice of attire, tattoos, jewelry and hairstyles are of no concern to us.
We don’t drug text employees, because if people want to smoke pot outside of the 40 hours that they devote to their job, we don’t care.
We have one overriding rule at Harbor Docks, and that is that you have to be on time. You also have to be a nice person.
Businesses have to make a profit—even if it is a small one—to stay in operation. It is particularly important to make money if you want to have an impact in your community outside the walls of your business.
Still, there are a lot more aspects involved in a business that operates for 40 years than money. Those are the things that keep us going. Those are the things that make us proud.
It’s 4 PM, and Destin is under a tropical storm warning. But that doesn’t matter.
Tonight we party.
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