Photo Credit – Lori Sparkman Photography
Serge and Mary Krikorian, opened their first restaurant in 1994 straight out of grad school. Serge had just received his MBA in marketing and his wife, Mary, had just passed the bar exam. They had no real-world experience running a business or even working in a business for that matter. Being fresh out of school, Serge Krikorian still believed that there was a right answer and a wrong answer to every question. What he wished he had been told all those years ago is that there generally isn’t a clear right or wrong answer, but that most answers are shades of gray – being both right and wrong. Serge learned you have to make decisions on which shade of gray is best for you.
Chef Serge Krikorian and his wife, Mary, started their catering business in 2002 after deciding to leave the family restaurant behind. Having catered thousands of events over the years as Dinner’s Ready, they launched Vibrant Occasions Catering, a new name that more accurately depicts the level of food and service they provide at weddings and social events. Serge Krikorian was born in Lebanon and moved to the United States with his family as an adult entering college. He now hails from the quaint town of Benton, Arkansas. His southern hospitality paired with his penchant for developing unique international fusion-style recipes, especially sauces, has garnered his reputation as a foodies’ fan favorite in his community and is now on the Youtube space for his cooking show, Cooking with the Kriks.
Over the years he admits he has made his share of mistakes. The key is to learn from your mistakes, even if they are expensive, and keep going and keep trying. Krikorian came to realize he must believe in himself and the people he places around him.
Challenges and Lessons
That’s the thing Serge wish he had realized earlier in his career – that his staff are the most valuable asset and they need to be treated as such. They are the faces and the voices of their company and, many times, they are the only interaction that individuals have with their company. Making sure that they are happy in their jobs translates into them making sure that their clients and their guests are happy at their events.
Serge found that creating a happy work environment started with defining what their core values are. How could they expect their employees to embrace and project their core values if they don’t know what they are themselves. So many companies come up with a set of core values, post them on the wall, include them in the employee handbook, and then promptly forget about them. They make a point of educating their employees on not only what our core values are, but what they mean to them. Serge’s staff actively recognizes each other with their program, Kindness Komments, noting behavior they have witnessed in their co-workers that exemplifies one or more of their core values.
Serge wishes he had found a mentor when he was younger. Someone who had been through what he was going through, and who could offer advice on the best path forward. They would have avoided so many problems but they were proud and thought that they had to provide all of the answers. It was only when he got older and the next generation started reaching out to him for advice on how to proceed that he realized that he would like to have an older, more experienced person to bounce ideas off of. What an incredible gift it has been for him to find a couple of more experienced caterers who are willing to listen and advise. Even if the advice is, “I’ve never encountered that before but let’s discuss the options.”, he said.
If you would like to get in touch with Serge Krikorian or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page