Piada Spotlight | Chris Neal
Meet Chris Neal – one of our rising stars at Piada, recently-promoted Sr. Chef and self-proclaimed cat dad. Chris grew up in Canton, OH, where he was a Boy Scout and avid swimmer. To perfect his backstroke, Chris began swimming at Malone University where he made it to the Nationals on the relay team. After studying business at Malone, Chris moved to Columbus in the pursuit of a new opportunity.
Chris began his career working as a door-to-door salesman which helped him develop his people skills - “Sales made me more personable.” Shortly after starting, he realized his passion was not in sales and used his Boy Scouts work ethic to navigate a new work environment. He came to the realization that he was more interested in the restaurant industry, so Chris applied for a job at Chipotle and started working in food service. While working at Chipotle, Chris said, “I saw that Piada was doing big things” and he knew he had to be a part of it!
At the time, Chris lived down the street from our Sawmill location in Dublin, OH and could walk to work. Because Sawmill was our testing location, he said that there were many times that they would make the same recipe over and over to perfect the dish. The constant drive to be better is what keeps Chris inspired at work – “I wanted to be a Supervisor when I first joined. The vision and food kept me motivated and excited to grow here.”
After recently celebrating his 4-year anniversary at Piada in February, Chris says his new goal is to grow into a Market Partner and he is open to relocating with the company if the right opportunity presents itself.
“I’ve been in Ohio my whole life. I’d love to move to Tennessee or Miami, FL - definitely somewhere warm!” Chris reiterated, “I love the direction we’re going - the next powerhouse restaurant in America. I can see us doing that.”
Chris attributes his success to the mentors he’s had in Piada management. “Jorge [Martinez – Chris's former Market Partner] has coached me for a long time.” Because he’s had great leaders, Chris has developed into one as well.
“Managing people is the newest, hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s a whole different side of the job.”
Perfecting this skill can be difficult, but it’s one challenge that Chris is excited for! When asked if he had any advice for new managers, he said, “Stay as calm as possible. Take a deep breath before making decisions – you cannot make decisions when you’re panicking.”
When Chris isn’t at work, he likes to spend time with his four cats – Aria, Charlie, Buddha & Buddha Jr. You’ll also find Chris hanging out with his girlfriend, Nikki, who works at our Lane Avenue location (a real life Piada love story!). They enjoy going to the movies and appreciate a good comedy! Chris also likes to visit his mom in his hometown of Canton, OH and hopes to travel down to North Carolina soon to spend time with his sister and his two nieces.
So, what’s next for Chris Neal? He will continue to build new creations on the menu like his favorite Calamari Piada with Diavolo sauce, Creamy Parm, feta, pancetta, spinach & pickled onions. While Chris’s life motto – “Make money” is important to him, ultimately, he wants to feel successful, and provide for his cats - “They’re expensive!”
If you’re looking for a career with huge growth potential, head to careers.mypiada.com.