Running the Boathouse


Grace Szydziak (left) Kerri Dougherty (right)

Marissa Jagodowski and Clara Jolley

Q: What was your previous place of work? How was the transition from there to being the Boathouse general manager?

Grace:  “My previous place of employment was the Student Prince in downtown Springfield, it’s owned by the same company that owns the Boathouse. I was originally asked to come to the Boathouse to help them through their busy summer months as they only had one manager and they felt like adding the patio during covid would help them with sales and bringing people in, and they knew they would be kind of busy, so they wanted to get him some extra help.”

Q: What was it like being promoted from a server to assistant manager? How did your responsibilities change?

Kerri: “The responsibility was definitely a jump for me. Going from server to assistant manager I kind of had the managerial background. You are the manager of your own table. You decide what that experience is going to be for the customers. I definitely had more responsibilities with jumping up and overseeing everybody instead of in my own world. The finances were definitely something new for me and the background of the restaurant and the operations. It was very new. The more I got used to it, the easier it was for me, so I kind of learned by doing it. So, the responsibility is definitely more being the manager but I kind of had the experience from serving and managing my own tables, and that’s what kind of brought me up. Confidence is definitely key as well.”

Q: What is it like to be in such a high position at such a young age?

Grace: It feels great! I feel like I started young and I knew that I didn’t want to be a server forever, but I knew that I loved working with people and in this business and in this industry. I did leave the industry once to do that nine to five, corporate office job and quickly realized that was not for me and I wanted to be here and be with people and have different happenings everyday. I love that and it’s great to be successful at a young age and to continue building and helping others.”

Q: Do you plan on staying assistant manager or would you like to further your career?

Kerri: “I think being assistant manager is a great start to what I want to be and for my future. As Grace said, I’ve always been interested in the restaurant industry and I have the most experience with hospitality and working with people. I definitely would like to grow out of assistant manager and into something else, I’m not sure where that will be. I’m open to all options, and having this job, it kind of opens a lot of scenarios for you, so I feel very prepared for anything that will come to me.”

Q: Did you always plan on being a business manager? Did you major in business?

Grace: “I did major in business in college, but while I was in college, I was unsure as to what my next move was. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a restaurant manager. It was when I was working part-time as a server that I realized I love this industry and wanted to be here and tried to move my way up as fast as I could.”

Kerri: “I did major in business and I actually have a management concentration. I would say being in the field for sure made me learn more about management than being in school, although I did learn a lot of skills at college. I don’t know if I’ve always planned on being a business manager. I’ve never seen myself owning my own business, I like working for other people, as long as I agree with how they want to do things and I think it’s a good fit. I’ve never really seen myself anywhere else though. I am happy where I am at.”

Q: How does your social media presence impact the business/community?

Grace: “ I think that we realized over the last year and a half that social media has a huge effect on business and, you know, people eat and drink with their eyes first. They’re looking at what they’re ordering, they’re seeing it ahead of time, they’re coming in just for our drinks or our food and I think it makes a huge difference. We have realized that promoting on social media will definitely bring people in and it definitely helps in every way. For example, every month we come up with new drinks and we post them for the public to see. We try to make pictures that are really bright, fun,  and creative with all different sorts of accessories to each drink so that each one is individual. People really enjoy coming for those specialty cocktails that we create.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the surplus of UMass students you get? What do you think draws them to the Boathouse specifically?

Kerri: “Well I think it’s great that we’re getting a lot of different age groups coming to our restaurant, especially for our specials, brunches, and cocktails. As a former UMass student myself, it was hard for me to discover this place, I found it online, so the fact that more people from different areas in Massachusetts are noticing us and coming and wanting to try our stuff out, I think, is great; we love them.”

Grace: “I think the environment at the Boathouse draws all sorts of people in, specifically UMass, because we are so large and it is such an open venue. They can all see each other and all talk to each other, they can all kind of, essentially, hang out, have brunch, or lunch, or dinner, enjoy our drinks. You know, it’s a fun environment, we have music playing, we sing happy birthday to each other multiple times in one shift. It’s just a good vibe when you’re in here, it’s a lot of fun.”