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The dock masters

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  • | 7:41 a.m. April 19, 2013
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Business: The Dock at Crayton Cove and The Riverwalk at Tin City restaurants

Generations: Developer Vin DePasquale and his son, Jonathan DePasquale

Succession Plan: At age 13, Jonathan DePasquale was arm-deep in the dish pit.

That's the nickname for the dishwashing area of the restaurant his father owns, The Dock at Crayton Cove.

The Dock is a Naples waterfront institution, but when he built it, Vin DePasquale only intended it to be the draw for the condos he had developed around it in the mid-1970s.

Now 38, Jonathan DePasquale is the general manager of The Dock. He's taking on increasing responsibilities that his father, Vin, 69, is passing to him.

For Jonathan, the restaurant business has been an acquired taste. “I really started to enjoy it later in life,” he says.

To gain experience, Jonathan spent five years working at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, returning to work with his father in 2008. “It taught me all aspects of customer service,” says the younger DePasquale. “I've been able to use a lot of the tools from the Ritz.”

Father Vin DePasquale is an entrepreneur who came to Naples in 1971 when it was a sleepy fishing village. “I needed a job,” he recalls. So he and a business partner developed the Crayton Cove area with boat slips and condos. They also developed Tin City, the waterfront retail development at the bend of U.S. 41 in downtown Naples as it veers eastward toward the Everglades.

Today, the DePasquales own two restaurants: The Dock and Riverwalk at Tin City. But when Jonathan was washing dishes at a young age, his father didn't expect the restaurant business to be his sole occupation. “Had I wished the restaurant business on him? Absolutely not,” says Vin DePasquale. “But as time went on, I realized these are solid businesses with solid reputations that need to be protected.”

Guiding Principles
To perpetuate the business, Vin DePasquale passes on these insights he's learned over decades in the hospitality business:

-Recognize what's important. When DePasquale faces a decision, he asks himself whether it's in the best interest of the business, the staff and the customers. If all three can be satisfied with an answer, then that's the correct one.
-“Communication is vitally important,” says DePasquale. Good communication with employees limits turnover. “How do you motivate people for success?” he asks. “You need to hire and choose the right people.”
-Understand cash flow. In a seasonal business like the restaurant industry, understanding cash flow is essential to remaining profitable because that way you can adjust staffing and other expenses.
-Provide leadership. DePasquale has a phrase that exemplifies leadership: “Jumping in when needed.” If there's a problem, employees can call the boss for help. “They know they can count on you,” he says.
-Learn to delegate. “I try to stay out of their way until I find something they can learn better,” DePasquale says.


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