Friday, November 28, 2008

Going Full-Circle in Hong Kong

Sometimes it's really rewarding to check back in on someone you've met previously on your travels and see how life is treating them. Some of you may recall my interactions several months ago with Jimmie, the friendly and enthusiastic manager of the Fatburger restaurant at the massive Venetian resort in Macau. Seeing a Fatburger restaurant, like I did back in Macau, had me yearning for the tastes of home. That's why recently when I was peering out through the window of a city bus in Hong Kong and saw the recognizable Fatburger brand as we continued to cruise down the street, I knew I had to find my way back.

Later that same evening, I was cozying up on a counter seat watching my burger being prepared at the newest Fatburger restaurant here in Hong Kong, which had only been open for seven days. The staff was buzzing about trying to keep the flow of food running as more and more ecstatic and reminiscent customers, hungry for that familiar southern California taste, came flooding through the front doors.

I noticed two western-looking staff members helping the local crew with their cooking and burger-building techniques. One of the guys spotted my Portland Beavers T-shirt that I was wearing and asked if I was from Portland. Sometimes the world really is so very small. The guy's name was Jake and upon seeing my T-shirt and learning that I was actually indeed from Portland, let out a big hearty laugh and said that he also was from Portland as well. After speaking for a few minutes, we came to know that we each had grown up not more than five miles from each other.

Jake and his boss, who were in Hong Kong to help with the launch of the new store, have what I consider to be exciting and enviable jobs. These two guys fly around the world helping new franchisee operators open up new Fatburger restaurants. In fact, they both were leaving on a flight that night which was taking them to Dubai where they were going to open up the first Fatburger in the Middle East. Talk about "hearts and minds"... now you can add stomachs!

I asked both Jake and his boss if they knew the Fatburger manager up in Macau named Jimmie. I told them that Jimmie was wonderfully enthusiastic and had all the characteristics of someone you would want leading a team. They told me that my assessment of Jimmie was spot-on and that actually Fatburger had recently promoted Jimmie to become the Regional Manager of all the Fatburger locations in China, which included the original Macau store, Beijing, and now Hong Kong. It was fantastic news to my ears and I was really happy for Jimmie. I told both Jake and his boss to tell Jimmie hello for me and congratulate him again on the big promotion. I couldn't think of a person who deserved it more.

Sometimes, your experiences and interactions with people during your travels do come full-circle. Hearing about Jimmie's success was one of those rare situations, yet it was one that left me feeling good and satisfied inside... just like the feeling you get after eating a delicious Fatburger.


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