Exclusive: General manager Jonathan Greschler fired from Old Major
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.
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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."