Owner of Reno’s Sports Bar & Grill
For many young people, the service industry is a great first job. The restaurant industry provides a training ground for learning the basic skills of communication, collaboration and punctuality that is essential in almost all jobs. When Jessie Stipcak joined Reno’s Sports Bar and Grill as a part-time waitress in 1996, she never expected to find her lifelong passion.
At the time, Stipcak was a Michigan State University student, pursuing her degree in mathematics and accounting, but after a few short months she quickly realized her true calling was the service industry. After only a year of employment, Stipcak found herself as the general manager of Reno’s East, prompting her to switch her major to hospitality business.
“I realized that I really needed to be in an industry that I love,” said Stipcak. “I enjoyed getting to know the customers and helping people have a good time.”
Her loyalty was rewarded with shares of the company and when her mentor, owner Steve Fata, was ready to retire he offered her the opportunity to buy the business. In 2003, Stipcak became the new owner. Her ambitious nature led her to take on ownership of the other Reno’s locations as well.
As a new owner, Stipcak quickly found herself making big changes to the locations in an effort to satisfy the desires of her customers and separate Reno’s locations from competing restaurants and bars.
Stipcak’s progression with the company not only led her towards inheriting ownership opportunities, she also opened the Reno’s North location in the fall of 2015 to help expand her brand and build relationships with the community of Delta Township. She was quickly embraced by the surrounding communities of Dewitt and St. Johns.
“My initial vision, moving forward, was to develop more entertainment options such as new outdoor patios and weekly activities. Atmosphere is important and people want open air in the summers,” she said.
As Reno’s locations continue to expand and grow with their patrons, Stipcak is conscious not only of her role as an owner, but also of her impact on developing employees.
“My mentor Steve Fata was the key to my development. He really helped me learn everything [there was] to know about the business. Learning from his successes and his mistakes gave me an advantage,” said Stipcak. “Steve was always very open and willing to let me try out promotions and experiment with the things I was learning in class. I’m still learning and I want to give my staff the opportunity to learn with me, just like Steve did for me. It makes running the business more enjoyable.”
Her past experiences and ability to keep an open mind are what allows Stipcak to remain empathetic. Understanding and sympathizing with employees is something you won’t find in most bosses. Her perspective on the industry is seemingly complete and yet, ever expanding, just like her businesses.