NYS Restaurant Association member Jahangir Kabir, District Supervisor/White Castle Systems, Inc., Woodside NY receives Faces of Diversity Award
The restaurant and foodservice industry is one of the most diverse in the United States. It employs more minority managers than any other industry. Women represent 55 percent of the restaurant workforce, and more than a fourth of all foodservice managers are foreign-born.
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is proud of the industry’s diversity and hopes to inspire further inclusion through the seventh annual Faces of Diversity Awards program. In partnership with PepsiCo Foodservice, the Faces of Diversity Awards program honors individuals in the restaurant industry who have realized the American Dream through hard work, determination and enterprise.
Founded in 2006, this program was created to promote the importance of diversity and inclusion by highlighting model companies that have excelled in this area, as well as to raise awareness about the important role restaurants play in providing a ladder of opportunity for millions of Americans to achieve the American Dream.
We at the NYS Restaurant Association congratulate New York member Jahangir Kabir, District Supervisor/White Castle Systems, Inc., Woodside NY on receiving this prestigious award.
The restaurant industry has been ‘very, very good’ to Jahangir Kabir. Not only did it give him a hand up when he didn’t speak a word of English and was virtually penniless, but it has since helped him achieve a BBA as well as an MBA, and better still, brought him face-to-face for the first time with his wife, Farida.
“The restaurant industry has given me so much,” says Kabir. “I consider myself a success and nothing I have achieved would have been possible without the help and encouragement of White Castle.”
Kabir, 43, immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh in 1990 with the help of an older brother already here, and soon was hired by White Castle as a cook.
The ninth of ten children, Kabir’s hard work and determination earned him several promotions once he learned English. “Because of not speaking the language I couldn’t work with the customers at first,” he says.
“But I really worked hard at it by reading newspapers, having a dictionary handy, taking classes, and talking to my nieces and nephews.”
After a mere six months Kabir was able to communicate with customers and soon was virtually fluent in not only the language but also all of the front and back of the house operations at White Castle.
Since the beginning Kabir has emphasized customer service and White Castle management took note, promoting him after only four years to a general manager post.
Kabir credits two individuals at the company for mentoring and helping him excel. “Eugene Miller, who was my first supervisor, gave me a job when I was struggling to find one,” he says. “And Maxine Rawson was my multi-unit manager and I credit her with where I am today. She showed me everything, and gave me a lot of tough love. She had a tremendous impact on me.”
Now as a multi-unit manager himself, responsible for about 200 employees, Kabir is returning the favor in spades.
“I don’t focus on results because my true belief is that if I take care of my people, the results will be on the table.”
And those results are ‘on the table’ as all eight of Kabir’s restaurants received an excellence award from White Castle’s corporate headquarters in 2013. “It really is due to my people,” he says.
Kabir’s number one priority is taking care of his wife and two children followed closely by watching out for his employees but there is a third priority as well: giving back to his community.
His generosity of time and spirit extends to East New York Urban Youth Corps, The East New York Family Day, and The 75th Precinct Community Council Spelling Bee as well as several organizations that benefit those less fortunate in his hometown of Barlekha, Bangladesh.
Additionally Kabir was recognized with the ‘Outstanding Community Service Award,’ by the Brooklyn District Attorney largely for his efforts to help eradicate prostitution from his community.
Despite Kabir’s jam-packed schedule he still manages to find time to pursue yet another dream: to receive a Doctor of Business Administration from Wilmington University in Delaware.
Kabir is hoping to finish by 2016 but no later than 2017, and already he has zeroed in on a dissertation topic. “I want to focus on customer satisfaction in the restaurant industry, specifically focusing on quick-service operations and Millennials.”
Admirably, Kabir doesn’t miss any opportunity to pay it forward to the industry that has given him so much, even when it comes to writing his dissertation.