Chickie's & Pete's General Manager Paul Porter recently received the “Unsung Heroes” award from Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) Employee Recognition Program, which honors employees who work behind the scenes and are not typically recognized for their work. Although they do not work directly with guests, their effectiveness significantly affects the airport and guest experience.
Porter has been in the restaurant business for 37 years, 12 of those years at PHL. As the general manager for Chickie's and Pete's, he manages all aspects of the operations of all four busy full-service restaurants and bars, along with three hold rooms, staffed by approximately 190 employees. He has a SERV Safe food manager certificate along with a Responsible Alcohol Management (RAM) certification.
“I love putting smiles on people’s faces,” said Porter. “Customer service is our number one goal. I love this company. They treat us like family. They’re a great support system and always a phone call away. I appreciate the confidence they have in me.”
In her nomination of Porter, MarketplacePHL Assistant General Manager Emily Nichols stated, “When the Marriott hotel was forced to shut down its dining operations during COVID-19, Paul was instrumental in leading Chickie's efforts to provide meals for their staff and guests. Any time an airport stakeholder needs support, no matter how busy they might be, Paul always responds with a ‘yes.’ Whether supporting a VIP reception or hosting a Cheesesteak tasting. Paul is immediately responsive to all concerns and sets an example for his team, that results in the Chickie's service staff being consistently praised for their outstanding customer service. Keeping a restaurant location open and fully operational 19 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year is an extremely difficult thing to do. When an inevitable obstacle happens such as an equipment break or plumbing situation, Paul is extremely efficient in ensuring that everything is taken care of quickly, safely, and with no disruption to customer service. When we need a location to open early, remain open late or open overnight in a snow emergency, Paul can always be counted on to ensure that the requested locations are staffed and functioning as needed.”
The most important skill Porter has learned over the years is managing employees and understanding people’s different perspectives. He loves it when his stores operate at high volume and enjoys interacting with people from different states and countries.
Nichols continued, “Despite his many responsibilities, Paul is the first one to notice changes in flight schedules, and proactively adjusts hours to ensure appropriate service for our guests. Paul is always pleasant, positive, and professional. His team is frequently recognized for what they do, and it's appropriate to recognize Paul's role in building and guiding that team. While he does not directly serve guests every single day, thousands of guests have a great experience and some authentic Philly cuisine thanks to Paul's hard work and leadership.”
Porter enjoys mentoring employees and promoting them within his stores as he has a good eye for recognizing employees with a strong work ethic. “It’s my job to put my employees in a spot to shine,” said Porter. “I never worked with a crew that can work the way my team does. I just want to change lives. I tell them that if I can make their lives better, I’m happy.”
Porter appreciates the airport and the lifestyle that it provides him with as he’s able to spend time with his family. Music is an essential part of his life as he enjoys several genres and likes attending concerts with his loved ones.
“The two quotes I live by are, ‘you get what you give', and ‘you’re only miserable if you make yourself miserable'. It’s about how you react to the situation.”
One of Porter’s most memorable moments was the lead up to the Eagle’s Superbowl LII win in 2018. Chickie's & Pete's overflowed with Eagles fans who created an exciting party-like environment while traveling for away games.
Porter is also proud that his stores participated in Operation Allies Welcome and provided food almost daily to Afghan refugees for a few months.
“I thank Emily for the nomination,” said Porter. “I love MarketPlace. They’ve always been good to us. I also thank the PHL stakeholders for selecting me for the award. I was very humbled by it as I’m not one for the spotlight. I like the team to shine. I work behind the scenes. I just make sure they have all the tools that they need to be super stars.”
The PHL Employee Recognition Program was established by the airport’s Guest Experience (GX) Department. Honorees are nominated by their peers and selected by the GX Council Steering Committee’s Employee Conduct and Recognition Committee. For more information about the program and to nominate an employee, click here.