James Shaffer has always loved working with people. This is one of the reasons why he originally went to school to study marketing. After four years working in the field of marketing and sales, Shaffer decided to give the restaurant industry a go with his dad, who is an accomplished chef from New York City. Inspired by a love for food and coffee, the father and son team decided to build a restaurant around the concept of sharing some of their own favorites with the people of Baltimore. That is how Argosy Café was born.
Shaffer attended the University of Maryland, College Park and obtained a marketing degree at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. He has worked a number of jobs in the restaurant industry in the past, but operating Argosy is his first full-time pursuit in this field.
What are the responsibilities of your current role?
“In my current role, I am in charge of marketing our restaurant as well as managing day-to-day operations. My role is really an umbrella role. No day looks the same. Some days, I am in the kitchen; others, I’m on the register. I moonlight as a bartender and barista at times as well.”
What is your favorite part about your daily duties?
“My favorite part of my daily duties is definitely working with the kitchen and bar to put together events. We do weekly tasting events where we work with local beer, wine and spirit reps to pair our food with their offerings. The best part about this is brainstorming how we can cook with their products.”
How has your education and training prepared you for your current role?
“I learned a lot at the University of Maryland that has helped me understand what we need to do to push the word out there about Argosy. The best thing I learned at Maryland was how to manage my time and make decisions on the fly to get things done.”
What do you do to continue your education and training?
“I read every day about what we can do to make our business more successful and have found some great pointers. We are still learning every day though, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. Twitter is a great resource for me. I follow a lot of accounts with great information directly relating to many of the struggles we encounter daily. We like to try new things here and aren’t afraid of failing.”
Do you have any advice for others looking to enter this field?
“My advice is be patient, always strive to be better for your customers and trust your employees. I see a lot of restaurants that are way too micromanaged. Baltimore has a great pool of people to work with you. If you give them some freedom and allow them to be creative, they will do great things.”
Laura Catherine Hermoza has a lifelong love for writing. In addition to serving as a contributor to various media publications, she is also a published novelist of several books and works as a proofreader/editor. LC resides in Baltimore County.