Sean McNally was in seventh grade when he started washing dishes at the Westminster Country Club. He did every job in that kitchen by the time he finished high school. He then worked foodservice in the US Army in Germany, did a year at Johnson & Wales and gained experience in hotels and other venues before returning to the Club as its executive chef.
In 2004 Sean opened McNally’s Grill & Pub, just off Route 2 in Westminster. A well executed mainstream American menu, friendly service, inexpensive lunch specials and live music on the weekends have made it the most popular spot in the area. When he met Delta’s Henry Patterson, Sean was personally overseeing hundreds of catered events annually, out of the kitchens of both McNally’s and the Club.
The sign on Sean McNally’s office door said it all: “I used to have a life but my job ate it.” Henry soon learned what Sean had known for quite some time: Although popular, his restaurant didn’t make money sufficient for him to step back from the often grueling hands-on role he had forged for himself. He was too busy working IN his business to ever have the time, energy or perspective to work ON the business.
The Delta Group’s initial process provided financial information Sean had never confronted previously, allowing Sean to make a number of positive decisions. He discontinued his responsibility for the Country Club’s foodservice at the end of the season. His bookkeeper quickly learned much more of her Quickbooks functionality, reconciling with bank statements and producing timely reports for management discussion. Sean started using his Caterease software more fully. He lost some customers he had been undercharging, but his catering business became more controlled and more profitable. His Pub chef Eric Gray learned to cost every dish coming out of their kitchen and by using the item sales data from their POS in combination with Eric’s COGS analysis, Sean and Eric launched a more profitable new menu at McNally’s.
When a competing restaurant in Westminster center went bankrupt and shut down, Sean seized the opportunity to take over the site. The property owner knew and respected Sean, and working with Delta’s commercial leasing expert, attorney Anthony Dedousis, Sean garnered an excellent twenty-five year lease. Sean’s solid reputation with town officials gained him an All Forms of Alcohol pouring license at no cost beyond annual fees.
Sean and long-standing McNally’s bartender Amy Courtemanche envisioned a more upscale bar for the new venture, with many craft beers, better wines, and especially craft cocktails like they had enjoyed while attending the catering show in Las Vegas. We arranged for Amy to work for a month with Delta’s cocktail expert Brother Cleve at another client’s bar in Cambridge, MA, giving her the confidence to develop her own craft cocktail program. Cleve and Delta bar strategist George Wright helped her lay out and equip a new 25 seat bar, and upon seeing the plans, Westminster based Wachusett Brewery agreed to provide a sixteen tap draught beer system.
Sean had the idea to name the new place Blueprint, needing no help from our branding expert Evy Chen, who immediately gave Sean’s concept a big “thumbs up.” Sean retained our interior designer Michele Kennedy to help him realize the Blueprint look and feel, and graphic designer Kristen Mallia went to work on the logo, signage and menus.
Sean and Henry prepared projections, budgets and related documents for Delta Principal Leo Correia’s use in his presentation to banks. One of the banks with which Delta has worked closely on a number of projects, Southbridge Savings Bank, agreed to lend Sean the money needed to complete the start-up of Blueprint.
A year into our working relationship, Sean ceremoniously took that sign off his office door. He is still very involved with his business and working more than he would like. However, he has given far more responsibility to managers, bar managers and chefs, and knows how to hold them accountable for the performance of their respective operations. Chef Eric Gray has really flourished since Sean appointed him GM of McNally’s. Blueprint is at 130% of its first year projection and the Blueprint start-up debt is being serviced comfortably. Plans are in the works to launch the outdoor seating area at Blueprint.