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Christopher Durley, General Manager · Tex Tubb's Taco Palace

Joni Mitchell was "raised on robbery." Christopher Durley was raised in restaurants. "I grew up in high chairs on the end of brunch buffets while my dad carved roast beef. Sometimes I got the scraps," he laughs. When Christopher was 16, his father opened his own restaurant, where Christopher did his homework after school in the office. And it wasn't long before Christopher himself got into the mix. "I started as a dishwasher and worked my way to the front of the house...first as a host, then a bartender, then a server, and then a floor manager. We also ran a sausage-making shop where I was trained in charcuterie." The Marquette, Michigan, native grew up in a food-oriented family where dinner was more of an experience than just a meal. "As an owner, my dad taught me the business; as a culinary graduate, my sister taught me the food; and as a nurse my mom taught me how to connect with people. It runs in my blood and my passion for it has never subsided." With his extensive background dating back to his teen years, it's no wonder Christopher has risen quickly through the ranks at Food Fight. After a stint as catering operations manager, he became a shift manager and is now the AGM. So what is his favorite thing about the restaurant business? "Seeing the special moments. Food is the one thing in the world that can bring anyone together," says Christopher. "There is no such thing as a typical day in this life. I have seen wedding proposals, baby announcements, major business deals, grieving families, first dates, last dates and more shared in our restaurants. It is all about the people and I feel lucky to share their moments with them." While you don't have to be born into it to succeed in the restaurant business, Christopher says it takes a special type of person to work in the industry. "You have to be thick-skinned and bold. When you surround yourself with those kind of people, you never stop learning. Food Fight has given me a deeper appreciation of making the customer happy. We go to such great lengths to make everyone's experience amazing, and that just shows you the dedication that this company has when it comes to customer service." In his leisure time, Christopher enjoys mountain biking and kayaking in the summer, and snowboarding in the winter. And, of course, he loves to cook. "When it comes to my home cooking, I love taking two random food recipes and trying to combine their ingredients into one dish."