Justin Oettinger, new manager at Kelsey’s Steakhouse, grew up in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. He first got involved with the restaurant business by bartending while he was in college.
Justin’s wife is what brought him to Northwest Indiana about 3 years ago, which is when he started working at Kelsey’s Steakhouse as a server.
“I moved out here after meeting my wife in Chicago, who is originally from Valpo. We moved here about 3 years ago and I came onboard at Kelsey’s as a server,” said Oettinger.
Not too long after Justin started as a server, he was promoted to the floor manager position in May of 2015. However, just at the beginning of this year, Justin took a bigger jump and took over as the manager of Kelsey’s Steakhouse. As the new manager, Justin’s duties vary, but he essentially makes sure everything is running smoothly in the restaurant.
“I ultimately make sure the product gets in as it should, is served as it should be, and making sure that the staff knows our mission that we are trying to execute. We spend a lot of money for the best quality product, so we need to make sure that it is made and served at an equal standard. Ultimately, my job is to keep everything moving,” stated Justin.
The transition from being the floor manager to the general manager was not as difficult as one may think.
“It has actually been a lot less stressful than I had imagined. There is definitely more to keep track of, but because of the previous general manager, the owner, and my support system, this has been a very easy transition.”
Justin’s hopes as the new general manager are to have regular customers returning and to get new customers coming.
“I am definitely building on a really amazing foundation that Michelle, the owner’s daughter and previous general manager, got going for us. I guess my goal is to maintain the tradition of bringing in families who enjoy dining and celebrating events at our restaurant, as well as bringing in new customers to experience our restaurant.”
A focus that the entire restaurant is taking part in over the last year is revamping The Bullpen, which is the bar area in Kelsey’s.
“We have been working on a small plate menu, getting the wine list to be a little more sophisticated with more variety, adding more craft cocktails, and looking at redesigning the bar area to accommodate a more robust bar crowd,” said Justin.
Justin’s focus as the new general manager of Kelsey’s Steakhouse is to make sure each and every customer walks out of the restaurant happy.
“My main focus is to maintain and accentuate the standards of service. Making the entire restaurant work as a team to make every guests experience outstanding. If everybody walks out happy, then we have all done our job really well. So the idea now is to get a more diverse crowd, get the younger crowds to bring in their children and so on,” said Justin.
Justin’s favorite dish at Kelsey’s is a tie between two very popular entrees.
“The prime rib is my go-to meal, but the ribs are unbelievable!”
Outside of Justin’s busy schedule as the general manager of Kelsey’s Steakhouse, he enjoys playing bass guitar while making music with his wife, golfing, and frisbee golfing.
If you would like to learn more about Kelsey’s, or take a sneak peek at their delicious menu, click here!