Since 2012, Rick Mancilla and his son, Rick, have been filling cups of coffee and sparking conversation at The Worker Bee Café on Linden Avenue. Picture a guy or a girl entering the restaurant and having a bad morning. They sit down, Mancilla gives them a cup of coffee and starts to chat. “Most of the people would laugh because by the time they’re done, they’d give me a big hug and say, I’ll come back to see you again. Because, you know what? That’s all that people really need,” said Mancilla. “Everyone who knows me knows I love to talk.”
Listening is another biggie for Mancilla, and when it comes to what advice he’d tell his younger self, it’s about keeping your ear to the ground. “Listening to the market is probably the most valuable thing,” he said. “People who are in business should experience a small town – just think of the way word gets around fast. I always tell people that just because you build it does not mean they will come. You’ve got to listen to the market.”
This also rolls into his secret to success. “For me, the main word that I always use is, ‘engage.’ If you are not engaged, you ain’t gonna make it,” Mancilla said. “I’m telling you; it doesn’t matter what business you have. If you’re not engaged, then you don’t understand the market. You don’t understand the people you’re with and you don’t understand your employees and therefore everything else just crumbles around you.”
With a background in corporate healthcare, Mancilla said it was his son who got him started in the restaurant business. Before he was married, the father and son met in Milan for a mountain biking tour through Austria, France and Barcelona, eventually meeting up in Sweden where Mancilla said he was working at the time. “I just remember hanging out with him, eating, and he said, ‘It would be cool to have a restaurant someday.’ And guess what? Ten years ago, it happened,” Mancilla said.
Mancilla breaks down his trade secrets into three categories, which he uses to gage new hires. The first is connection. For example, when you shake another’s hand, depending on their grip, you can tell if there’s true or false sincerity. “You can tell when someone is not being genuine,” he said.
The second is eye contact. “You have to be able to look somebody in their eyes because to me, that’s a portal into your soul,” Mancilla said. “It may sound kind of weird, but you learn to understand a person by how they look at you.”
The third thing is conversation. “It is so critically important to me that you talk because I love to talk and enjoy speaking to other people,” Mancilla said. “I need those three things because that’s what makes us a family restaurant.”
Mancilla also noted that in business, “change is constant and growth is optional.” Mancilla and his son have learned to adapt to challenges when they arise and have figured out ways to make the business stronger and more successful despite these challenges. Having that as a foundation, The Worker Bee continues to thrive, and so does Mancilla and his crew. “People go, ‘You really dig what you do.’ And I say, ‘Damn straight! That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.’ I love what I do.”
The Worker Bee Café is located at 973 Linden Ave.