Ryan Thorsen (CA-TH ‘06) hadn’t planned on becoming the General Manager of one of San Diego’s most well-known restaurants.
Certainly not at the age of 23.
Without any prior GM experience.
But that’s just what happened.
Brother Thorsen’s hard work, initiative and bold moves, enabled him to earn the GM position at Bertrand at Mister A’s in 2012, after only three years in the restaurant business.
His fast rise began at Mister A’s in 2010 when he started as a part-time manager, while also working at a marketing agency, managing another restaurant (begun as an internship) and attending classes. Upon graduation from SDSU later that year, he committed himself to learning everything he could about running an upscale restaurant.
He stepped into the GM spot during a tumultuous time at Mister A’s.The previous Director of Operations —who had been there for 27 years—left abruptly last April, without a designated replacement. As the owner searched for an experienced manager, Ryan saw a unique opportunity. He wrote a proposal explaining that, while young and perhaps not qualified by traditional standards, he was a viable candidate for the job. “I felt that I was capable of assuming the position and making the necessary changes with the knowledge of two years of internal, day-to-day experience,” he said.
Ryan was given a trial run while the owner was on vacation. “It was the perfect storm, as I had to work three different positions and navigate the steep learning curve of becoming the GM,” he explained.
Ryan did such a good job he was appointed permanent General Manager, and received an even clearer view of how time consuming and all encompassing his new job is: coordinating staff needs; developing work schedules; managing labor, food and liquor costs, marketing plans and budgets; and a full range of other tasks. “It is definitely a demanding role and hectic at times, but I have become comfortable with it,” he said.
After a couple of months of 70-90 hour work weeks and experiencing the busy 2012 holiday season, Ryan has gradually settled into a more reasonable routine of 50-60 hour weeks. He is also in the midst of developing exciting plans for Mister A’s ongoing growth. “My near-term goals include expanding the private dining business, improving our visibility to remain ‘top of the mind’ with San Diego locals, and the grand opening of our brunch service, which will start on April 7th for the first time in the restaurant’s 48 year existence.”
Ryan pointed out that his great success at Mister A’s has been enhanced by a strong self-confidence, which was partially developed during his involvement with Cal Theta. He served as Eminent Archon (for two semesters), in addition to Social Chair, Risk Manager and pledge classVice President.“As EA,I found different ways to work with people, interact with alumni, learn from my mistakes and make critical decisions,” he said. “It definitely helped build my confidence.” During his time at SDSU, he also had an opportunity to study at Oxford University, as part of the Oxford Study Abroad Program (OSAP), alongside many of his fellow ΣAEs.
Ryan has continued the volunteer spirit that he displayed at Cal Theta. He is on the Special Events committee for the California Restaurant Association and plans to be involved with the Bankers Hill Business Group and other organizations. He is also an alumni advisor for ΣAE.
Still in the early phase of his impressive career, Ryan is enthusiastic about the future.“I see myself most likely remaining in the restaurant industry; continuing to develop at Mister A’s and eventually owning my own restaurants.”
Meanwhile, when not working long hours, Brother Thorsen takes time to advise Cal Theta undergrads, and pursue his interests of golfing, camping, hiking, surfing and traveling. “I am starting to plan a few trips, which will definitely include researching other restaurants.”
He also looks forward to increasing his involvement with the Alumni Association. “My schedule has made it difficult for me to attend as many ΣAE events as I’d like. I do hope to participate even more in the near future.”