Photo 1: Mom & Dad (Carole & Dan Sheftic) and Mike and the pups.
Photo 2: Mother's Day with Mom, Carol Sheftic.
Photo 3: Mike working his BBQ magic.
1. How did you land at Top Hog and in Gainesville?
I accepted a position as the Kitchen Manager for Stonewood Grill about 20 years ago so that I could be closer to my family. I did some small BBQ catering events for friends and family, also. My close friend, Merrisa Eller, and I started brainstorming ideas for a restaurant that we could open together. Since our BBQ was such a hit, we focused on developing the Top Hog BBQ concept. When we found the Jonesville location, we knew it was meant to be our first restaurant. We knew we would be living there while we were building the business and it was close to where we lived and had a need for a BBQ restaurant.
2. Did you anticipate so much success?
You always hope, right? My plan was always to expand and open multiple locations but that's the optimist in me. We put our hearts and souls into Top Hog BBQ. We love and appreciate being allowed to be part of the community. Our guests have been very supportive and we would never have been able to do a second location in the midst of everything that was going on in the world if it wasn't for the overwhelming support of the community.
3. When did you know you were in the right "place"?
I joke that I started to cook because my Mom was a bad cook. In reality, I would say it was more that my Mom was very busy and had other passions. She is an artist and her arts and crafts business took all of her time and energy. Cooking was not a priority. But I always loved food. And my mother encouraged me to embrace that love. My parents would let me write ny own grocery list and cook whatever I wanted for the family. I was brought up in an environment where I was encouraged to be independent and embrace my creativity. I learned at an early age to appreciate the great feeling that comes from knowing that I created a great meal for somebody. To this day I love cooking for people and seeing the expression on their faces as they eat something that I created for them.
4. How do you balance work and family/personal life?
That's a great question. I don't. My daughter is grown up and happily living her life with her family. My work is my family. Every one of my guests and employees are like family members. So Top Hog is very personal for me. When you own 2 restaurants it's very hard to set aside any time for yourself without feeling like you're neglecting your "baby". I do try to take a day for myself every week to relax and reenergize but I've found that being in the restaurant when it is all flowing, all the employees are enjoying their jobs, and all the guests have smiles on their face is more revitalizing than anything else that I can think of.
5. Do you have a mentor?
I've had several mentors throughout my career. The one thing that I think they all taught me was that you MUST enjoy what you do. Restaurants are hard businesses to run, with high turnover, long hours and short profits. You do not work in restaurants to get rich. For me it's the pride of knowing that people want to eat the food that I've cooked and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from knowing that the business that I've created is employing so many people and helping make our community a better place.
"Fear is a choice". Life is tough and there are many things that can deter us from doing what we want to do. No success comes without the risk of failure.