From Neighborhood Restaurant to Platinum Club General Manager – A Ten-Year Success Story
At the young age of 31, Will Duthe is the quintessential success story for any graduate from a Hotel Schools of Distinction Institution. It was only eight years ago that he graduated from Niagara University’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management and began his management career in the field of private club management. However, his practical hospitality education began six years prior working as a dining room host, bartender, and kitchen assistant at a family-owned Italian restaurant in a suburb of Buffalo, New York.
Cross-training in all facets of restaurant operations and working in those positions over a six-year period provided Will a comprehensive understanding of guests’ wants and needs as well as the numerous challenges that are associated with ensuring service excellence. After completing an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences from Niagara County Community College, will transferred to Niagara University. Once there, he learned of a newly formed student organization, the Niagara University student chapter of the Club Managers Association of America (NU CMAA). NU CMAA was only in its second year of existence, but promised a commitment to professionalism, practical education, experiential learning, and industry networking that was unparalleled by other organizations. During the Summer of 2008, he was selected for a food & beverage internship at the Maidstone Club in East Hampton, New York; the seaside Summer playground for many of New York City’s most affluent and influential residents. It was at this internship where he was able to draw upon his six years of casual dining work experience meshed with his NU CMAA training and Niagara University academics to find his true passion: private club management.
What started as a three-month internship evolved into a full-time F&B management position at the Maidstone Club after graduation. It was during this 18-month stint that Will began to master the various aspects of wine and beverage operations, service delivery, and haute cuisine. Then, Columbia Country Club came knocking. They were seeking a talented and polished up and coming manager to stabilize and grow their food, beverage, and banquets operations.
Recognized as a Platinum Club of America, and located just outside of Washington, DC, Columbia Country Club serves as the second home for senators, congressional representatives, ambassadors, business executives, judges, government leaders, and other Washington-area power elite. A mere 26 months after arriving at Columbia Country Club, its Board of Directors entrusted complete operational control and responsibility to Will Duthe as its next general manager. That year was 2013; he was only 27 years of age, and it was only 3-1/2 years since he had graduated from Niagara University. Talk about the “fast track” to success!
Almost four years later, Will Duthe remains as the club’s general manager, where he leads a team of 250 employees in serving 1,400 members and their families. His incredible accomplishments in such a short period of time combined with his humbleness and sincerity serve as a motivating influence for all Niagara University students to emulate. When asked what the single, greatest lesson that he learned from his educational journal, Will replied, “That your sincere and earnest dedication to your career and the people around you are critical to not only your success and continued motivation for excellence, but your overall satisfaction in life and your career. I’m always asked about the long hours, and not having a regular schedule. My response, if you love what you do it becomes more about making a difference than work. When I reflect back on the last ten years of my career, my time at Niagara University and my involvement in the university’s student chapter of CMAA was a turning point. I learned that your education and focus for professional and personal growth doesn’t end when you graduate, it should be a continued focus in your daily and professional life. This approach is now imbedded in the Club’s culture. We look at every challenge as an opportunity for growth and development across all levels of the operation.“
Pictured above: William Duthe, General Manager, Columbia Country Club