She’s smart, compassionate, hardworking and witty. Her staff is like a family and they always work as a team. In your time of need, she’s the first one there to help and she always knows what to say. She’s the type of person you want in your corner. Who is she?
Jayme Braatz, the General Manager and backbone of Merrill & Houston’s Steak Joint.
Raised in Beloit, Jayme is one of the town’s biggest supporters, and she has spent most of her life in the restaurant business -- from a bartender at Hanson’s Bar and Grill to an assistant manager at Glen Erin Golf Club, and a manager at The Rock to the general manager of Merrill & Houston’s. Her years of knowledge and experience have made her an excellent leader and manager.
When Merrill & Houston’s first opened, there were around 25 employees, but the restaurant and catering business today has grown to 58 employees. One of the biggest testaments to Jayme’s success as a manager is that over 20 of her employees have been here for three or more years, with some having stayed since Merrill & Houston’s opened its doors five years ago.
So, how does Jayme keep almost half of her staff for over three years in an industry with high turnover? Just ask them! They have nothing but genuine and kind things to say about their manager. Jayme’s right-hand women and management team, Tanya Walker and Maria Salazar, stress how much Jayme puts others’ needs before her own and how she’s always working for the betterment of the team. “Teamwork makes the dream work” is Jayme’s motto for a reason, and if you spend an evening at Merrill & Houston’s, you’ll see the staff is always working as a team.
On especially busy nights, you’ll walk into Merrill & Houston’s to find Jayme slinging drinks behind the bar to help pull her bartenders “out of the weeds.” When Jayme fractured her foot, she still insisted on carrying trays over her head to avoid her servers falling behind, even though she was in a walking cast. And these are only a couple of instances where Jayme goes above and beyond to ensure the service is impeccable; if you ask her staff, they’ll be able to tell you many more stories.
From managing a stellar crew, a catering business and a restaurant to bartending and serving, is there anything Jayme can’t do? This tenacious, selfless woman is a one-of-a-kind manager and Merrill & Houston’s is lucky to have her. The teamwork is making the Merrill & Houston’s dream work.
By Betsy Lizer