Workplace Stories

Geoff Titherington, Owner of Bonanza Steakhouse, Invests in Young People

Geoff Titherington, business owner of the Bonanza Steakhouse in Sanford, ME, has been a long-term supporter of youth who have had a challenging upbringing, whether or not they’ve been in foster care. Geoff believes in giving young people the chance to succeed. One such young man is Justin Goodale, 19 years old, who met Geoff a few years ago while serving as a volunteer at the ballpark concession stand for the local baseball team, the Sanford Mainers. Geoff was able to observe Justin in a customer service role and liked the way he talked with customers. They struck up a conversation at the ballpark, which created an opening for an interview. That was over three years ago and Justin continues to enjoy working at Bonanza.
After Justin was hired at age 16, he began washing dishes and bussing tables. He says that he has always liked talking with the customers and in fact, is on a first-name basis with many of the regulars! Justin admits that this was his first job and he wasn’t always as focused as he is now. Justin credits the other staff and Geoff for helping him learn about his job. The staff have been very patient with him as he’s moved from bussing tables to working on the buffet line to cooking. He now has more confidence in himself and has learned that a job that involves interacting with customers is important to him.
Geoff believes it makes good business sense to help young people learn to be successful employees. He has hired several young people who return to Bonanza on their college breaks, creating continuity in the service that customers can expect from the restaurant. As Geoff says, “The easy path for employers is to always hire people with proven track records. But there is great satisfaction in helping someone who has not had a traditional family situation, when you can see that young person succeed. I have seen this happen again and again in my business over the past 30 years.”
As for Justin, he advises young people to find a workplace where they like to be and work that they enjoy, just as he has done at Bonanza Steakhouse.