I write about restaurants because I love good food and I don’t work in one. When I lived in North Carolina I embodied the East-West divide. But I missed Pho and green curry and Tom Yum Goong from St. Paul’s University Avenue. In France, I ate everything served to me without asking what was in it until after dinner (which is probably why I order tripe in my Pho.)

As much as I enjoy cooking, I love when someone cooks for me.

Meet Tony Andersen

I don’t go out to eat that often, so when I do, I want it to count. Meet Tony Andersen, restauranteur, old friend and servant leader. Tony owns the Happy Gnome and Augustine’s in St. Paul.


I lunched with Tony a few weeks ago at Augustine’s. He was keen for me to sample the veggie dishes. With my passion for burgers, BLTs and Bullock’s Bar-B-Cue I can barely remember I was a vegetarian for years and years. But instead of talking much about the curried falafel, Tony regaled me with stories of the bread oven and the coffee maker. I was hungry and definitely wasn’t paying the finest attention until the part about “my chef had to have the very best Italian bread oven.”

So I asked why.

Selby Avenue in Saint Paul is not the epicenter of fine dining. The food at Augustine’s and the Happy Gnome is delicious, but they are both pretty casual spots. So why invest in the very best machines?

Tony’s response? His employees take pride in their work and they needed them to do their jobs right.

Now, I was paying attention.

While technically Tony works for himself, he really works for his employees. As a servant leader, Tony instinctively knows that supporting his people makes his businesses successful. Bravo.

“The key to motivating employees is the focus a servant leader places on the welfare and growth of everyone in the organization. The motivating factor is that the servant leader pursue every opportunity to positively impact the behaviors of employees first—making a difference in their lives,” said David McCuistion in his article 9 Ways to Motivate People Using Servant Leadership.

Think Servant Leadership Is Too Good To Be True? Why It’s The Best Investment A Business Can Make, Forbes


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