Exclusive: General manager Jonathan Greschler fired from Old Major

jgresphoto.jpg

Whoa. From the outside looking in, everything seemed perfectly peachy at Old Major, Justin Brunson's restaurant in Highland that opened in late February after months of restless expectancy by the city's food-obsessed. The temple to swine, wine and farmhouse cuisine just garnered a three-and-a-half star review from the Denver Post -- a review in which critic Bill Porter ballyhooed both Brunson's cooking and the front-of-the-house staff: "Service is exemplary. The floor staff is led by front-of-the-house man Jonathan Greschler, formerly of Fuel, who is a natty presence in a tweed jacket and vest. Quick to the table, servers arrive with a smile, zero attitude [and] a deep knowledge of the menu," wrote Porter in his review.

But behind the scenes, trouble was brewing, and this morning, during a manager's meeting, Greschler was fired.

See also:
- Old Major, Justin Brunson's "elevated farmhouse cuisine" restaurant, is now open
- Sneak peek: Old Major, opening on February 24
- Restaurant roll call for February: Old Major in, Pig & Block out

According to part owner and investor Juan Padro, who also owns Highland Tap & Burger with his wife Katie O'Shea Padro (she's also an investor in Old Major), the overall culture of the restaurant had deteriorated under Greschler's watch, especially when it came to the management of staff. "Moving forward, we felt like the business would be healthier without John here," says Padro. "There were a lot of expectations surrounding Old Major, and we certainly tried to manage those expectations, but along the way, one of the things that got away from us was our culture, which is predicated on a set of core values that focus on how we communicate and deal with one another, how we support one another, and when it's appropriate to have certain conversations and when it wasn't -- and at the end of the day, we didn't feel like the environment was healthy with John here, so we decided that we needed a change."

Greschler says he was completely blindsided by the move. "When I went into the meeting this morning, Justin told me that I wasn't connecting with the staff -- that this wasn't the right job or place for me, and I was completely stunned. My jaw dropped to the floor," admits Greschler, who also worked alongside Brunson at Wild Catch, before they, along with the entire staff, sailed out the door when shoddy owner Daniel Kuhlman made things too miserable to stay.

"I feel absolutely betrayed, I'm fucking irate, and I strongly disagree with their decision," continues Greschler. "We just got a great review from the Denver Post, we'd seen eight weeks of constant financial growth, we just had our busiest Saturday, and I thought things were wonderful, but apparently I was wrong."

But there were warnings, notes Padro, who suspended Greschler several weeks ago, on a weekend, after there was reported friction with the staff. "To his credit," says Padro, "he came back and made a strong effort to improve, but he just wasn't seeing what everyone else was seeing and that impeded his ability to lead, and leadership is really important to us."

Location Info

Venue

Map

Old Major

3316 Tejon St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
57 comments
CorkedSangria
CorkedSangria

He didn't see his firing comin much in the same way he didn't see that sports coat was three sizes too large.

Good god, man. Exchange that jacket for some behavior that doesn't border on delusional sociopathy.

There's plenty of us at have seen your actions from near/afar and knew this was but a matter of time.

lucymcfad
lucymcfad

Wasn't Jonathan fired from TAG only a few after its opening? Where there's smoke , there's fire. Maybe he should try another career or leave town. I can't imagine  2 rounds of negative press can be good locally for his reputation at this point. 

AtticusFinch
AtticusFinch

The idea that an ownership or management group would discuss publicly, with this level of detail, the qualities of a fired manager or the reasons they were fired is the most unprofessional thing I think I've ever seen.  As a business person I would fire one of my junior managers for doing this, let alone this coming from ownership or senior mgmt.  This IS news if mgmt. is foolish enough to make it news, so Lori did nothing wrong here.  It's Old Major that has shamed itself.  

tmetucker
tmetucker

We will never get the real reasons for why stuff like this happens.  We will speculate and pick sides, dust off the people affected and move on.  At the heart of this, is the very real problem of employment security in the restaurant biz.  I remember a time, not very long ago when professionals in this industry were valued, relied upon and coached.  The best in the biz were leaving the corporate restaurants to help build a community of independents and raise the bar in Denver.  This is how restaurants like Table 6, Solera, Clair de Lune entered into our lives.  This is that same story only these are very different times.  

If someone works tirelessly to help you build your dream restaurant you owe it to them to work with them and give them the respect and loyalty that they earned.  On the flip side if someone gives you the reins of their dream restaurant, do your best to do the job as they want you to, assuming it is clear what they want.  This industry as it sits now just based on a numbers game, every staff member is disposable because there are plenty of replacements looking at job postings as i type.  I hope we all feel some sadness when an employee at an establishment we frequent,  just isn't there one day, fired or quit because of some avoidable circumstance.  The majority of the dining public (apart from the business travelers), don't go out to a restaurant just to eat and leave, we go out to enjoy the experience.   This includes the souls we interact with, and i wish they weren't always treated as simply "replaceable"!


Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

It's really all my fault. Wild Catch closed a week after I ate there. The chef at Central was fired in the week between when I made a reservation and when I ate there. Same with Old Major - just got reservations for the weekend and Greschler gets canned. I'm like the lone horseman of the Denver restaurant apocalypse. You should see the list of restaurants that have closed since I made them my choice for NYE dinners. Denver restaurant employees, I offer my apologies (but I don't know how to remove the albatross). @Jonny G, I'll try to avoid your next place of employment for a while to give you a chance to settle in.

REDmeat
REDmeat

Some people don't think this is 'news'- seriously? This is great fodder for those in the industry as well as the patrons of the restaurant. Just look at all the comments! Maybe the 'news' some people are looking for can be found on the ny times website or bbc . .  This is a blog for what is happening in and around the restaurant industry isn't it? Isn't Old Major located in the middle of the most talked about restaurant neighborhood in Denver- or was that neighborhood Centennial?

**Stop blaming Lori for doing her job. Classic 'shoot the messenger' - a Fox news favorite

**Stop bagging on Justin. Anyone who has the balls to start anything new in this town should be commended. That's what makes it interesting. Or should we just keep lining up at Applebee's and The Olive Garden?

**Good for anyone who is outspoken and ready to stand up for themselves. It's their decision. Much better than cowering away - never speaking up for themselves and always wondering what could have been said- all their choice not ours. Choice, Freedom, Amurica!

It's anyone's complete choice to read this stuff- all it takes is a click and boom your back to reading and commenting on some other site, probably criticizing something else, never taking a risk in your own life and calling up the closest Applebee's for take out. 







Mandy Walter
Mandy Walter

Reed - U said it best. This really should not be public news!! Miss u

bourgogneparnuit
bourgogneparnuit

Airing your dirty laundry in public is unbecoming of any "professional" in any industry. This overly dramatic post about an average restaurant manager getting fired is the "news?" Give me a break! It is trashy juvenile drama that no one should have to be subjected to but very typical of this blog. 

weege0011
weege0011

I was eviscerated for predicting what would happen to this restaurant by all the local pundits when I posted moons ago. It looks like I was correct. I said that this restaurant would have issues like his last place and look at this, Im feeling a little vindicated.  

Justin didnt do Wild Catch right and blamed it on other people, he hand picked his GM and waited for a year for him to come over to the new joint while it was being built. You cannot honestly tell me that Justin had no clue what his management style was/is? I call shenanigans. 

The restaurants AGM and now the GM have left the building, all thats left is Elvis to bail out of the kitchen and stick to making overpriced sammiches while continuing to herd the sheep.  

Jonny G
Jonny G

Hey all.  To clarify: IMO Juan did nothing and said nothing wrong.  No one at Old Major did.  I was let go bc I didn't get the job done to ownership's satisfaction.  That's it.  Pretty boring.  I reached out to several people after getting terminated saying "Do you know anyone hiring?"  Lori was one.  She said she was sorry to hear the news and she'd think about it.  An hour later (or so) she talked to Juan (who had given his honest assessment of the situation and me) and gave me the chance to respond. I didn't think it warranted a story.  I worked at ownership's discretion and was let go the same way.  That's really it.  I wish them the best.

DenverLuv
DenverLuv

#1) I follow Lori because, frankly, she does a great job. But, all the "drama" around this Brunson guys newer establishments belong in People magazine, not in Lori's highly respected columns. People get fired everyday, and frankly, I don't understand what is so special about this Greschler guy, other than he clearly has Lori's "ear" and has some experience. Big frickin deal. There are others working just as hard that have accomplished 100x what this guy has.  (8) weeks of financial growth? Really? Who gives a rats ass.

#2) Bruson is good, but he has a long way to go before he is "great". Lets see if Old Major is around 3 years from now, and if it is, maybe he can be in the "great" category. Coming from a City like Chicago, Brunson would have a hard time getting noticed, more or less be worthy of headline news. He does have talent, so lets see if he can establish some longevity with this place, or if Lori writes another article in 9-12 months about how Justin is moving onto other things b/c of some bad business relationship, or whatever other BS comes up. 


snackattack
snackattack

Wrong. anyone who knows the fundamental basics of PR knows that "no comment" is the single worst thing you can say. Google "no comment" and see what the consensus is. It's not your stance, that's for sure. Cowards, idiots and people who can't tell the truth say "no comment." Juan, to his credit is none of those things. Neither is Jon. Bravo to them both for their clarity.

Holly Elkins
Holly Elkins

Jonathan actually played a key role in the success of Old Major. I can attest to that. I've also known Katie and Juan for a while and I'm not interested in taking sides or passing judgement. I wish the best for everyone.

helkins
helkins

I wish the best for everyone involved. I'm sorry to see Jonathan go. Hope to see you somewhere fantastic soon. 

BSquared5280
BSquared5280

I hope you fools do stop visiting old major. So I can get a damn table there

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

There's too many people who think they're in charge.

Philo99
Philo99

Trouble continues to follow these drama queens. At some point you have to stop blaming other people for issues and communication problems and start taking a look at yourself. 


I found the problems at Old Major had more to do with the food than the service.

snackattack
snackattack

Lol! "No comment" means one thing: "I'm guilty and have something to hide." No one with any sensibilities says "no comment." Jon is a big name in Denver, Old Major is maybe the most talked about restaurant right now, and since Juan owns Old Major, its his job to take the good and the bad and respond honestly and forthrightly about issues that impact his business and potentially, his guests.

Jon_S
Jon_S

I have a feeling Old Major is just Wild Catch redux. I give it 6 more months before everyone involved gets in a huge pissing match and the whole thing shuts down. Kuhlman sounded like kind of a crazy guy, but I'm more and more convinced he was not solely to blame for Wild Catch's failure. And based on the dynamic and public airing of firing an original member of management, the same problems seem to have carried over to Old Major.

Roger Glas
Roger Glas

There are literally hundreds of General Managers in Denver...some of which are extraordinary at their jobs. Is it really news that this guy gets fired? It's not like he was an owner...he was hired by the owners and they are making decisions every day how to improve their business. I like your articles Cafe Society, but this one was a waste of my time.

Brian Bonsignore
Brian Bonsignore

I agree I find it in very poor taste to air out the issues of what seems to be between three people. As someone who spent the better part of 30 years in food/ hospitality , owner/ operators never let go regardless of the alleged dream manager (s) that are brought in to enhance and over see. From the article Old Major seems to be living the dream . Building financials, an amazing review, and steady building clientele spreading good word. To make someone's dismissal public seems like the typical over the top micro management . It's my restaurant that eventually sours the entire operation. Build your team and reap the benefits ie; look at how many current chefs here in Denver and elsewhere where nurtured under Frank Bonnano . His empire grows because he's a teacher, an owner , an operator and a developer of people. Good luck to Old Major success can always be short lived.

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

Drama like this in which personnel issues get aired publicly make me never want to visit Old Major - ditto Central Bistro and Bar and the Universal.  Bad for public image and, honestly, not the business of anyone on the outside.  Does seem to be a trend that so often staff members who helped create a restaurant's initial success get the boot shortly afterward.  Doesn't really speak well of the owners/management IMO.  Use 'em and lose 'em.

helloandgoodbye
helloandgoodbye

Excuse me? Juan is a standup guy with more integrity than just about anyone in this city. I feel bad for Jonathan, but Juan is a smart business guy and there's no dirty laundry here. What I read seems to be an honest asessment by both parties of how they feel with Juan explaining why he let John go and John reacting to the news.

Rots
Rots

A: Wow

B: Padro - stfu publicly. You look terrible

C: a good reminder of why i got out of food/beverage entirely years ago

rawdoggin
rawdoggin

@Mantonat I'll use an adjective that Jason Sheehan was very fond of, but this post is "redolent" of your ego.  If you would, please just sent @Jonny G a personal text message expressing your thoughts and spare us all the less than subtle implication that you know him, you are "connected" in the local dining scene, and there is some specious connection between your patronage of various Denver restaurants and their success and/or failure. 

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

@Jonny G Really dude?  You don't have any ill feelings?  Maybe Lori got the quote wrong or you're just back peddling.

"I feel absolutely betrayed, I'm fucking irate, and I strongly disagree with their decision," continues Greschler. "We just got a great review from the Denver Post, we'd seen eight weeks of constant financial growth, we just had our busiest Saturday, and I thought things were wonderful, but apparently I was wrong."


seankenyon13
seankenyon13

@Jonny G Well said Jon. Love you and Juan both. I know you will both have success moving forward.


TheJeff
TheJeff

@Philo99 Problems with the food?  Now that's just silly.  Justin Brunson has been one of the top chefs in town for some time now.  I've tried half a dozen things at Old Major and each has been stellar.  Service has been really solid for me too.  I don't know what the deal was with this guy, and it's none of my business, but it sounds like it was causing tension with the staff, not the clientele. 

Old Major may or may not be around for the long haul.  I hope to eat many more meals there.  If it can't make it though, it sure won't be because of problems with the food.

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

@snackattack "No one with any sensibilities says "no comment" - au contraire - anyone who has taken even a basic course in business management knows that you do not discuss personnel issues with people outside of your business.  Opens you up to all kinds of potential legal liability.  "We do not comment on internal personnel issues" is the best business practice.  I have no dog in this fight - maybe the guy needed firing and Colorado is an "Employment at Will" state so the owner was within his rights to dismiss the guy.  His mistake was taking the bait and airing all of his grievances with his former employee in public.

lucymcfad
lucymcfad

@Jon_S  You could be right!  Word around town is Old Major has MAJOR service issues and food is inconsistent.  They should have opened slow and not attempted to be all things to all people right out the gate. The "douche bag" press has helped matters either.  

fatback
fatback

@Jon_S Well Katie and Juan have run sucessful businesses for years with no drama..Justin is a  chef for f sake with loyal employees and no drama for many years. Once again, another outsider with no knowledge of the restaurant scene in Denver! The guy who owned Wild Catch and Taste was a total nutter! Why dont you go eat at TAG already.

herepiggypiggy
herepiggypiggy

@Denver Dave ..you have no idea what youre talking about. I'm familar with all of the parties involved and cant say enough great things about all of the folks at Old Major. Westword is here to "air" this stuff out, dont blame it on the people behind the scenes. Mr G got what was coming to him. If you understood the industry at all , you would know this!

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

@helloandgoodbye If Juan was really a smart business guy as you assert, he would known that his response to this whole episode should have been "no comment".

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@rawdoggin I've never actually met Jonathan Greschler and had no idea who he was until I saw this series of posts (so I can't really send him a personal message). I was just trying to lighten up the mood here a little and maybe share a little gallows humor with him. It's called empathy, I think. I don't know him, but I can imagine how he must feel (and I've been there before too), so there's just an off chance that he might just read this and chuckle. I'm really one of the least connected guys in the whole city. Once I walked into one of the hip new establishments in that cool part of town and the host said "Hey, rawdoggin, good to see you!" I didn't bother correcting them because it made me feel a little special and I got a free bowl of nuts out of it. Anyway, I'm sorry you don't have a sense of humor - next time I'll try not to use any irony. And by the way, "redolent" is a bullshit word and Jason Sheehan knows it.

Jonny G
Jonny G

@Denver Dave @Jonny G it's not back peddling.  no where in my response does it say "I don't have any ill feelings."  I'm really hurting over this.  But regardless of my opinion over the validity of why I was let go, in the end it's just my opinion.  Doesn't mean jack.  Owners do what they think is right.  If I don't want to get fired I need to either get better or find my own $600,000 and open my own spot.  Not wafflin' at all DD.

Philo99
Philo99

@TheJeff@Philo99I've seen the place get some good reviews, so maybe consistency is, because we were quite disappointed on our visit. 

 We had some great entrees but the of the 4 small plates we ordered, 3 should have been sent back. When you pay $28 dollars for foi gras and a table of 4 foodies isn't willing to finish it, you've got a problem. When you pay over $600 for 4 people to dine I expect much better execution and presentation. 


"Justin Brunson has been one of the top chefs in town for some time now. "


That's what their publicist told me too. I just don't taste it in the food.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@rawdoggin @Mantonat And my apologies for saying you have no sense of humor. Sometimes what I think is funny is not what everyone else thinks is funny. 

Cheers to Old Major staying open and serving great food for many years to come, and to JG for a quick rebound and great jobs in the future.

rawdoggin
rawdoggin

@Mantonat @rawdoggin Well played sir.  I supposed that with your recently consistent articles (and photos) with Westword you had a more than casual association with the actors in this play.  That said, I also have a familiarity with the throes of the hospitality industry (albeit a few years past). 

 Please blame my post on sour grapes, a sense of nostalgia and the regret of never being able to tell Jason how much I enjoyed his articles while simultaneously feeling exhausted by his rants and wordiness (which I seem to have absorbed).  Best of luck to all involved and here is to our collective sense of humor.  Perhaps we'll meet at the Old Major bar one day.  At least I know what you look like. :)

Lambchop
Lambchop

Oh, youre part of the "foodies" group! You lost all my respect with that classification d- bag!

Philo99
Philo99

@Cap_Hill_Cowboy  

This isn't T-ball. You don't get to keep swinging till you get a hit. This is supposedly fine dining at one of the most expensive restaurants in town. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

The owner Juan did contact us, with a polite and courteous letter,  after one of my guests left a bad review.  He made some excuses about training new staff, something I feel should be done on the restaurants time, not when I am paying $600 for a meal.

Cap_Hill_Cowboy
Cap_Hill_Cowboy

@Philo99 @TheJeff If three of your apps "should" have been sent back, why didn't you send them back? Not giving someone the ability to correct a problem before you wander out the door and bitch about it in the comments section of a Westword blog is pretty unfair. Constructive feedback to any restaurant is extremely helpful, especially one as young as Old Major. If they hadn't wanted to correct the mistake, then you have something to complain about. But you didn't even give them the chance.

Pretty crappy, I think. 

TheJeff
TheJeff

@Philo99 @TheJeff We've obviously had very different experiences.  Nobody loves Fruition more than I.  I've eaten there at least once a month since they opened, but I think that if you were to ask Alex Seidel and Frank Bonanno, they'd tell you that Old Major is right there too.

Philo99
Philo99

@TheJeff @Philo99 To even mention Old Major in the same sentence as Mizuna and Fruition is laughable. 

Not even in the same universe.

TheJeff
TheJeff

@Philo99 @TheJeff I don't know any publicists, but I've eaten at Mizuna, Fruition, Wild Catch, and Old Major when Brunson was in the kitchen.  Food spoke for itself.  Up there with Alex Seidel, Jennifer Jasinski, and Frank Bonanno for me.

Now Trending

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Loading...