Kenneth Watts is a lucky man. Devoted to his career of 17 years, he said he wouldn’t change a thing. “I can’t tell you how much I love this job.”
Kenneth is a dishwasher at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen in McDonough, GA.
“When people come through my dish room, I want them to see and smell the cleanliness,” he said. “When I arrive in the morning to start work, I look around, and if I see anything unclean or in the wrong place, I go ahead and deal with it so I can make my day — and everyone else’s day — better.”
He started washing dishes at Olive Garden in 2002, but when he saw a TV commercial about Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen a few years later, he was intrigued and switched brands. He has worked at two Cheddar’s locations: in Jacksonville, NC, and McDonough.
Kenneth said he didn’t like dishwashing at first. “I thought it was too hard!” But as he got better at it, and got into it, his outlook changed. “I decided to keep this job for a while. And I have. I’m dedicated because I’m here for the guests, to push out clean dishes and make the guest experience better. I take my work 100 percent seriously.”
Kenneth made a singular impression on Darden COO Dave George during a restaurant visit in 2018. “When I walked into Kenneth’s dish room, it was during a busy lunch period yet the area was spotless," Dave said. "I have rarely met a team member who takes so much pride in their work. Kenneth took total ownership of his area and responsibilities. He is one of the best dish machine operators I have met during my 40 years in foodservice, and he is a tremendous contributor to the Cheddar’s team.”
Managing Partner Stephan Shields feels the same way. “Kenneth is extremely valuable to us. He sets us up for success every day. He realizes that every plate, glass, knife and fork affects our guests, and he takes that to heart.”
A father of three, Kenneth has a positive attitude. “I am never in a bad mood. If something’s going on at home, I leave it at home. I don’t bring my troubles to work. It’s not about me, it’s about me taking care of my kids.”
He said his approach to work is simple. “I do my job, mind my business and try to help people. They pay me well, so that’s not too much to ask for.”