Lubar alumni gathered over tacos and tequila this month at BelAir Cantina on Downer, hosted by co-founder and operating partner Kristyn Eitel (’01). The event was the latest in the Lubar Alumni Chapter Success Series.
Eitel shared the story of her journey in the restaurant business, beginning as dishwasher at age 12 and a server in college, and quickly launching after graduation as general manager of Trocadero. Today, she is partner and financial officer of 14 different restaurants and bars including BelAir Cantina, Finks, Garage, Balzac, Hihat Lounge, and Fuel Café. In total, the partnership employs over 800 staff.
Raised on a farm in Eden, Wisconsin, Eitel told the crowd that she was eager to come to UWM for college, even though Milwaukee was much different than her life growing up. Though she didn’t plan on staying in the city, she’s now happy to call it home.
It’s also a fantastic place to do business, she said.
“I love seeing all of the positive changes that are happening in Milwaukee,” Eitel says. “More and more people want to come to here and that’s great for business.”
Her affection for the city has taken on a new dimension in recent years through BelAir Cantina’s “Powered by Tacos” initative that supports local non-profits including Tosa Skate Park, Urban Ecology Center, Playworks, and Ronald McDonald House.
“It’s so important to me that we support the community we’re part of,” Eitel shared.
Of utmost importance to her, however, is people. (Perhaps not surprising for a human resource management major.)
“I have had excellent partners and mentors throughout my career, and as the business grew, I was able to rely in a lot of great people as I took on different responsibilities,” she said.
And she carries those personal experiences forward as she works with her own employees.
“I can leave a stack of paperwork on my desk when I leave at night, but if someone wants to talk to me, I’m there.”
The next Success Series program is scheduled for Tuesday, November 12 at Rockwell Automation. More information available here.