I was just chatting on Twitter with my friend Chad Wellmon about our favorite restaurant, Highlands Bar and Grill in my home town of Birmingham, Alabama. (Chad’s wife is from Birmingham.) I’ve written before about my devotion to Highlands, where I first ate in either late 1982 or early 1983 — within a few months of its opening, anyway. Since then Highlands and its chef-owner Frank Stitt have just gone from strength to strength. If you can ever find a way to have a meal there, you absolutely should. You’ll remember it. (If you want commendations from less partisan judges, they aren’t hard to find, but you could start with this one.)
My wife and I don’t get to return to Highlands nearly as often as I would like, but whenever we do one thing always amazes us: how many familiar faces there are among the staff. Everybody’s favorite waiter, Goren Avery (known to customers just as Red), and Stitt’s genius of a pastry chef, Dolester Miles, have been with Highlands since the beginning, thirty-four years ago. And that’s really remarkable. There are some lessons here for business owners who’d like to learn them.