“It’s not life and death. It’s just lunch and dinner.”
This week, Panini Pete welcomes long-time friend and restaurateur John Conley to the podcast. In this episode, Conley discusses how he got into the profession – working at a deli at the age of 13 – and how his career has grown from there. He also compares the restaurant business with the profession of smoke jumping and how the structure of the latter helped him do better at the former.
In his more than 30 years in the business, Conley has seen a shift in his priorities. He treats his employees like family and encourages them to find importance in their lives outside of their jobs. Listen to him describe this journey with Pete and why he thinks this aspect of his business and his life is so important.
Conley is well-known in Flagstaff and beyond for his restaurants Salsa Brava, which he opened at the age of 21, and Fat Olives Italian Kitchen. Salsa Brava continually wins awards for its Mexican fare in Arizona. As the father of a child with Down syndrome, Conley is also working to open a breakfast restaurant that hires people with disabilities, which is just another example of how he is now focused on family and the community at this point in his career.
Even after 30 plus years, Conley said he still loves what he does and loves going to work every day, but he also loves fishing and takes time for himself when he needs it. He encourages his employees to do the same and makes it a point to be invested in the lives of his employees.
Tune in for the details.