Opportunities & Career Growth in Hospitality: One Team Member’s Story

We recently sat down with Mike DeCarlo, Director of Dining Services with Morrison Living, to discuss career growth, management challenges, and his 20-year journey.

Talent acquisition and retention continue to be a challenge in hospitality. Staffing is a vital part of your community and essentially, in-house brand ambassadors. They serve, interact daily, and care for your residents – so it’s critical to maintain staffing consistency to ensure residents, and your team, feel engaged and connected.

Hiring the right people for the right positions, providing rigorous on the job training and opportunities for growth, results in loyal staff who come for the job and stay for the career. One such example is Mike DeCarlo, Director of Dining Services who has been with Morrison Living, part of the CCL Hospitality Group family of companies, for nearly 20 years. We recently sat down with him to learn about his journey with Morrison Living.

When did you start working at CCL Hospitality Group and what was your first position?

I started in September 2004 as a 12 hours per week dishwasher. Over the course of the following two and a half years, management cross-trained me in every position in the kitchen. I worked my way up and became a server, worked in our retail location, was a stock guy and a prep cook, and eventually a cook. In 2006, I was offered a supervisor’s role and began working as a Dining Services Supervisor. It was such a surreal moment in my life, as silly as it sounds. And it wasn’t an easy decision because taking on the role meant I would need to finish my Adolescent Education degree in night school.

What do you consider the most rewarding part of your job?

The residents in the community that I serve are what get me into work every day, but it’s my staff that keeps me here. The most rewarding part of my job is when I see the growth of my staff… even if it means they move on from working with me. In 2021, management encouraged us to nominate someone we felt could benefit from earning a culinary degree. The gentlemen I nominated had dropped out of high school, and as he completed our culinary training program, he also earned his GED. Although he’s moved on from working here, I am proud to say he has continued his education and is pursuing a career in another field. He called me and thanked me for believing in him and told me that it was my encouragement that opened his eyes to his potential in life.

For anyone considering applying for a position at CCL Hospitality Group, what would you want them to know about working here?

CCL Hospitality Group truly is a place where there are many professional and personal opportunities to grow and feel supported by management. Brian Haley, who I consider my mentor, was our Food Service Director at the time (retired now) sat me down and had a very real conversation with me about my future. He wanted me to understand how this organization is a place where I could build my career. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I come from a lower middle-class background, born, and raised in Rochester, New York. Through Brian’s encouragement and belief in me, I am now proud to say I have worked my way up the ranks, with no limit to my growth and endless opportunities.

When people ask what I do, and where I work, I can hold my head high when I tell them. As a result of what Brian Haley, and CCL Hospitality Group has done for me, I am always encouraging our staff to grow, and pursue a future here.

Interested in a new career?

CCL Hospitality Group is always looking for talented and compassionate people to join our hospitality team. 

About Morrison Living

Morrison Living believes that a culinary experience, aligned with your culture and your residents’ dining preferences, is the heartbeat that makes your community one of a kind. Our experts in culinary, wellness, design and marketing will collaborate with you to find that magical blend of options that offers a little something for everyone. By making every breakfast, lunch and dinner a chance for growing communion, we make food the Best Part of Someone’s Day. That’s a winning recipe. For you, your business and your residents. Learn more here.

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