Matt Weir is the general manager of Liberty Station Madison, which opened in Summer 2020. The smokehouse and tavern is known for its delectable smoked meats, local draft beer lineup and award-winning cocktail program. Learn about Matt Weir…
Hometown: Grand Haven, Michigan
First job: North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club, “Puller.” At 14, I would load and control the machines that launch clay targets on the skeet/trap shooters command, “Pull.”
Favorite ways to spend free time in WI: I love a good project. I derive a lot of satisfaction from making things and by learning new skills that help me make better things. My wife likes to joke about my similarities to Ron Swanson, and perhaps she is right. I would hate to be the type of person that would buy their wooden furniture. But also, a big part of the reason we relocated to the Midwest was to take advantage of the seasons and be outdoors. We love camping, fishing and taking our golden retriever (Hank Williams) to the lakes. We were extremely excited for our first winter in a while and quickly reverted to our childhood selves with impromptu snowball fights and one (unintentionally terrifying) snowman. Wisconsin is such a beautiful state, and we are incredibly happy to be able to enjoy it.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: Marrying my wife, Erin. Shortly after moving to Wisconsin and getting settled in our new home, I found myself trying to figure out how I would have ever accomplished what I have professionally without the constant love and support of my wife. The truth is I probably wouldn’t have. Having someone in your life that builds you up, gives you confidence and is your biggest fan cannot be understated. I feel truly fortunate to have found that in her. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s a total fox!
The biggest obstacle you overcame: Leading a new restaurant team through the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 was a notoriously difficult year for almost everyone, and the restaurant industry was no exception. Navigating mandatory shutdowns, capacity restrictions, staff shortages, countless policy changes, exploring new ways to grow revenue and cut waste was no small feat. Opening a new restaurant under ideal circumstances is a massive undertaking. Doing so with all these new challenges was borderline Sisyphean. But with a monumental effort and perseverance from the whole team, we find ourselves nearing the end of the tunnel with the light growing brighter every day.
Someone who inspires you and why: I find myself particularly inspired by Gene Kranz. As a NASA flight director, he was at the helm of mission control from some of NASA’s greatest moments and darkest hours. Most notably for his role on Apollo 13. After an explosion mid-flight, he led his team to save the crippled command module and its crew. I have always looked up to people who can remain calm under pressure, and he is a perfect example. I often find myself trying to emulate him, his cool head and, of course, those dapper vests!
Advice to someone pursuing a similar career path: Be a good teammate and ask questions. There are very few environments I have been where teamwork is more essential than a busy restaurant. Eventually you are going to find yourself behind and in need of some help. The best way to get help is to give it when you can. Pick up the slack, jump on the task that no one wants to do, make your teammates look good and people will take notice, your peers, and supervisors alike. Never underestimate the power of a good question. In a basic sense, questions help the teacher deliver the information in a way that will click with you personally. There is also a big different between knowing and understanding. You may know of a certain process or protocol, but if you understand why that is in place, you will know how to deal with an anomaly because you will understand the objective.
Favorite quote: “Measure twice and cut once.” Or as my dad would say, “I cut it twice, and it’s still too short!”
Something surprising about you: I always look for four-leaf clovers. Four-leaf clovers have been a theme in my family since I can remember. My grandfather would often prompt us grandkids to hunt for them when we were feeling bored and needed to get out of the house. After he passed, we were reminiscing about him and the clovers. My grandmother shared that he had given her clovers through their whole marriage, and she fetched her bible to show us hundreds of pressed clovers between the pages. Today whenever I see a patch, I take an extra minute to see if I can spot one. Behind Liberty Station, there is a particularly fruitful bed. I don’t consider myself terribly superstitious, but when we are facing a tough shift, I seem to find myself looking extra hard. More often than not, a four-leaf clover will present itself and will end up in a small vase on the expo line.
What makes someone fabulous: I believe everyone is fabulous for different reasons. And with any team, I believe it takes a lot of talent in different areas to be successful. Figure out what each person is good at and put them in a role that they will flourish in. That and whether or not they love brisket!