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During pandemic, CEO of restaurant chain reminds himself what's important

Chris Tomasso, CEO and president of First Watch Restaurants, is trying to limit his perspective to 30 days at a time.

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  • | 3:00 p.m. April 23, 2020
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Company: First Watch Restaurants

Revenue: $354 million in 2018

Executive: Chris Tomasso, CEO and president

What's your current working situation: I’m working from home. I have a fully functional, dedicated office with printer/scanner and docking station/monitor for my Surface.

What's the biggest challenge with the current working setup? There’s no real challenge from a spatial standpoint, but I miss interacting with my colleagues. I find myself needing a change of scenery every few days. On those days, I move to my back patio for some fresh air and a fresh perspective.

What's the most important lesson you've learned so far during this time? Nothing is predictable, and you can’t plan for everything. I have also learned that during times of crisis, there is no such thing as over-communicating. 

What books, articles, TV shows, podcasts and/or audiobooks have you been focused on during this time? Haven’t really had much time for that to be honest, but I did catch a few episodes of the new seasons of “Ozark” and “Homeland” and have specifically avoided “Tiger King.” I have intentionally not watched much network TV or news.

How far out into the future are you looking? Things are evolving at such a rapid-fire pace that I have tried to limit my perspective to 30 days at a time for the most part.

How do you maintain your spirit/morale when everything has changed? I constantly remind myself what is important — health and family. It has been nice having my son home from UCF. There have also been a few nuggets that have circulated via social media that have helped keep me grounded. One is to think of what we are undertaking as “Safe at Home” versus “Shelter at Home.” 

What form of exercise or stress relief have you been turning to during the crisis? My dog is sick of walking with me so much now, and I try to ride my bike every day. It’s nice when my wife is able to join me for either one. My son and I have also been playing HORSE in our driveway, and we have been having family game night once a week. We are a competitive bunch.

What was your last trip to out of the house? Yesterday. I ran to Home Depot for some light bulbs.

What's your favorite meal to eat at home? We’ve gone back to some comfort food basics. I made crepes for my wife and daughter last week for breakfast, and for dinner we have had steaks on the grill and goulash.


Click the links below to hear how more regional executives are handling the shutdowns.


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