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Categories: 2024 Seasoned in Service, FEB/MARCH 2024, FOOD & DRINK, Seasoned in Service

Seasoned in Service:
Chris Barroso
15 years, two as a general manager of Jim Shaw’s Seafood Grill

Seasoned in Service is a series in our annual Food Issues, celebrating local food service professionals who have been in the business for ten or more years, highlighting their invaluable contributions to our community.

Interviews by Sierra Stark Stevens

Photos by DSTO Moore

Chris Barroso, a lifelong Maconite who has worked in nearly every restaurant role in the front and back of the house, shares his wisdom from 15 years in the industry and his approach to leadership as general manager of a legendary Macon staple, Jim Shaw’s Seafood Grill

Is there a certain attitude or principle that guides your work? 

Having respect for my customers and my staff is my top priority. I have pride in the products I serve. I don’t ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t be willing to do myself. I have had my fair share of managers throughout my years in the industry. I think the best kind of boss is always growing and changing. I know I will never have it all figured out. I just keep learning from my mistakes and leaning on people I know with more experience so I can grow.

What makes you most proud at the end of the day? 

Nothing makes me happier than coming out of the kitchen and talking with my customers. I love making people happy and getting to talk to the families and friends who gather here to eat and drink. I love my employees and spending time with them every day.

What do you wish outsiders knew about the service industry?

The service industry is hard. The prices of our food and paper products change daily. Staffing is a nightmare right now. Restaurant management really is a passion project. You must love what you do and love serving your community to work in this industry. If you walk into a restaurant, be kind, be patient, and be generous. 

What’s unique about Macon’s food scene? 

Macon is so eclectic with its food offerings. We are a wonderful mixture of established chains and locally owned eateries ranging from places like Jim Shaw’s with 38 years in business to the many restaurants that just opened last year. Not every concept works here, but as a community, we are constantly growing and experimenting with new restaurant styles. The community is very supportive of new business and very loyal to their regular establishments. 

What should people try at Jim Shaw’s?

Our assortment of fish and the many ways to order it will keep you ordering something new for months. Our top sellers are always our catfish and shrimp. People swear by our house salad with homemade house dressing (a sweet onion vinaigrette). I always suggest people try out our CAB burger on a grilled brioche bun. I would wash it down with our classic sweet tea or one of our bartenders’ delicious margaritas.

What’s important to you outside of work? 

I lost my mom last year, so my family life has been different as we adjust to the new normal, but I have an amazing father, siblings, and extended family. We see each other as much as we can. I go to St. Joseph’s Church every Sunday with my family. I used to moonlight working catering events, but now my life revolves around Jim Shaw’s. If I’m not at work, I am in the gym or at home resting or playing games on my computer.

My goal has always been to open my own Cuban Café called Café Barroso and share my Cuban heritage and cuisine with the people of Macon. It’s in my 5- year plan, and I hope to one day add my name to the list of successful entrepreneurs in our town. 

Any special stories with coworkers or guests that illustrate what’s important to you? 

I can’t pick just one story from the 15 years I have been in the industry. If I can pick one relationship for at least 10 years, it is with a gentleman named Chris Barton. He hired me back around 2011 to work in Bearfoot Tavern’s kitchen. I continued working for him over the next 10 years as a caterer and bartender once I graduated from Mercer in 2012 and moved out of the kitchen. In 2021, he offered me the general manager position here at Jim Shaw’s, and here we are now, two and a half years later. I have never been prouder of the business I run, and I couldn’t have done it without the guidance from my Director of Operations, Chris Barton, and our three owners.