From host to boss: Valdosta Olive Garden manager works his way to the top

| May 10, 2017

VALDOSTA – Nine years ago, David Bish began his career with Olive Garden as a host at a restaurant in central Florida. He continues to welcome guests and families today, but now he’s in Valdosta as a general manager.

Bish began working his way through the ranks in 2008 at Olive Garden’s second largest location, a restaurant on Orlando’s tourist crowded International Drive.

“Within a couple of months, I showed some initiative and became a server, then a line cook and then a culinary assistant,” Bish said.

Bish eventually became a trainer, and in 2012 he was part of the team that was put in place to open Olive Garden’s Valdosta restaurant.

“As a certified trainer, I was responsible for the most important station in the restaurant, salad alley,” Bish said.

A few months after helping to open the Valdosta location, Bish became a manager.

“I moved between a few Olive Gardens,” Bish said. “I ended up in Kissimmee as a service manager. I’ve rotated between all the management areas. The most recent was culinary management.”

Before his promotion to the Valdosta general manager position, Bish went through host training, server training, culinary training and management training. He has held almost every position there is to hold in an Olive Garden restaurant, which puts him in a unique position to lead.

“I hold my team to ridiculously high standards to deliver to our guests at any Olive Garden, especially the one here in Valdosta,” said Bish. “But I also want my team to have fun. I want guests to see that this is a fun environment to be in. We want you to have a homelike experience.”

Jeremy Shaffer, David Bish and Marcia Hill

Of course, Bish said he wouldn’t be able to achieve anything at the restaurant without a great supporting staff, which includes Courtney Bibby, service manager, Marcia Hill, service manager, and Jeremy Shaffer, culinary manager.

Bish has been in Valdosta for a month with his wife and young daughter. And while his family is settling into a new area, Bish said there is plenty about Valdosta that feels familiar.

“I grew up in a small town in Florida, and I really like Valdosta,” Bish said. “It’s a little bigger than where I came from. It’s a nice area.”

Bish has been introducing himself to the community by delivering fresh food to those who serve the Valdosta area.

“It’s a way to reach out to the community,” Bish said. “I have done hospital runs and stopped by the fire department to drop off lasagna dinner.”

Whether it’s delivering a surprise dinner to firefighters or serving a family birthday celebration, Bish said his goal is to treat Valdosta area residents as family.

“Working for Olive Garden has been a great opportunity for myself and my family,” Bish. “We are going to treat you like family, and we are going to have a good time. I want it to be a relaxing, genuine Italian dining experience.”

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