ORANGE PARK – A local LongHorn Steakhouse manager was recently was among eight awarded a nationwide honor by the restaurant chain.
Loren Sanford has been with LongHorn Steakhouse for nine years and he’s climbed the ranks from line cook to trainer to manager at Orange Park. He was named Manager of the Year by the company this year, which is an award that only seven others received out of 515.
“I’m feeling great and it’s so exciting to have received this,” Sanford said. “It’s a great accomplishment and this kind of recognition feels good. I’ve got a great team behind me that made this happen and I’m just so thankful for all of this.”
Sanford was attending the annual manager’s conference earlier this month. LongHorn executives were talking about the highs and lows of the year and what managers needed.
The conference then turned to handing out awards. Sanford didn’t necessarily expect to hear his name called, he said.
Sanford was welcomed on stage in front of LongHorn managers, directors, the vice president and company president.
“It was overwhelming to receive such a prestigious award in front of all of them,” Sanford said. “It was a legendary experience, really.”
Sanford said he is excited to add the accolade to his resume so he can continue to advance within the company. His goal with LongHorn is to become a managing partner and own a store himself. There, he hopes to instill the principles he’s learned in life and at LongHorn into the staff to create the best possible customer experience.
Before becoming a manager, Sanford was an official trainer for the company. He flew all over the country to more than 100 new LongHorns for training.
“It was great work because the principals and values I have, LongHorn has too,” Sanford said. “Dignity, respect, loyalty. All of those things you learn growing up are also our core values so creating an excellent work experience and an excellent dining experience starts there.”
Sanford said what’s most important is teamwork.
“We function as a unit, as a team,” Sanford said. “We all look good together. So, as a team, we hire the best people and stay motivated by celebrating great performances. In my case, it’s easy because our team here is amazing.”
Beyond the essence of teamwork, Sanford stresses to his team the importance of putting the customer first. Sanford said at LongHorn, the guests come first and problems are quickly fixed.
“The customer always wins and we go above and beyond to ensure that is the case,” Sanford said. “That’s what makes LongHorn Steakhouse America’s favorite steakhouse. We do that one community at a time.”
After nine years with the company, Sanford has no plans to work anywhere else. LongHorn Steakhouse has been good for his career and he doesn’t expect that to change.
“They’ve done so much for me and even after all these years, the company is so very inspiring,” Sanford said. “I’m just forever grateful to work for a brand that takes care of its people and its community.”