Keeping HR simple a winning recipe for one restaurant

It’s been nearly five years since business partners Evan Hansen and Andy Hollyday started a restaurant called Selden Standard on a quiet Detroit street. And in those intervening years, they’ve learned a lot about the food industry.

Evan Hansen and Andy Hollyday

The buzz around their work has been going ever since, making their once-quiet Second Street a hot spot. Selden Standard is a local favorite and a restaurant success story, earning accolades from around the nation for its food, chef Hollyday’s creative recipes and their knowledgeable staff.

In fact, the Detroit Free Press in 2015 named Selden Standard as its top pick for restaurant of the year. And there’s more excitement to come. Recently, Hollyday and Hansen announced they closed on the former Payless Shoe building on Woodward around Grand Boulevard to open an upscale Mediterranean-focused restaurant concept in the New Center area.

Hansen grew up around food – he describes his mom as a talented cook who made delicious food. He also enjoys cooking at home, generally making dinner six nights a week. But running a full-fledge business where food and drink are the central ingredients to a great night out? That took some work.

The former marketing expert turned restauranteur said the human-resources practices at Selden Standard are pretty simple. Before he opened the restaurant with Hollyday, he worked for about six years as director of marketing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“It was extraordinarily fun to collaborate with a great group of people on creative projects, whether it’s to recruit students or thank donors or whatever the case might be. In a lot of ways, those are still some of the things I enjoy in a restaurant setting too,” Hansen said.

Finding the right people to help along that path toward having a great restaurant has been key to Selden Standard’s rise among food critics, Detroiters and people coming into the city for a tasty meal.

“Detroit is full of inspiring people and places. One of the benefits of having a business here is that we get to meet so many interesting people doing interesting things,” Hansen said. “Whether it’s organizations like Cass Community Social Services or Alternatives for Girls; or a longtime resident buying up and cleaning up houses to improve their block; or friends opening a coffee shop; or people pursuing dreams of having their own farms, there are countless stories of people doing numerous important or interesting things.”

The bottom line for Hansen is that his connection to the restaurant and its employees is strong – right in line with the quality of the food and design of the place itself.

“I’m proudest of the team we’ve assembled. There are a lot of comments out there on the internet or in the press about the lack of talent pool for restaurant staff in the area, but I couldn’t be more proud of the people who I get to work with at Selden every day,” Hansen said.

“Some of them came to us with a lot of experience, but many did not, and together, they create the complete experience for guests. And while we’re hardly perfect, we’ve been fortunate to garner a lot of favorable reaction to what we offer. I attribute that to a great team,” he added.