Growing up in Bulgaria, every achievement (large or small, from birthdays to academic awards) was a cause for celebration in Aleks Kunov’s home. His family invited friends over and always made it a big deal. “I certainly felt special,” said Kunov.
Of course, in this current role as the General Manager for Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Bonita Springs, FL, Kunov takes care of guests and team members alike, making them each feel special as a key component of his work day. “As a General Manager, I always think about a special occasion and how important and meaningful they are,” said Kunov. (It is important) “for everyone trying to go above and beyond to make sure we deliver on our promises to our guests.”
His path from the Balkan peninsula to USDA Prime Beef is as inspiring as it is fascinating. In college, Kunov felt pulled towards the study of engineering – that was, until, he took a year to work in Oxford to learn English and found his first restaurant job. From there, he connected to the notion of exceptional guest service – also known as “White Star Service” – by working on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 British transatlantic ocean liners.
From there, in 2007, he set his sights on the United States. Kunov braved his next destination, San Francisco, arriving without a place to stay, without employment and only $1,500 in his pocket. Hungry for building his own success, he took on three jobs at once – including a position at a 7-Eleven convenience store, another restaurant and one at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Walnut Creek, CA.
His experience at Ruth’s Chris immediately felt special. Beyond the high level of service alone, which he previously experienced at Cunard, Ruth’s Chris felt like “one big family.” While he was a busser, his colleagues often offered to drive him to and from work – a small gesture that meant the world to him at the time. “It was really, really great to see that people care about you,” said Kunov. Not only did the restaurant team feel like family, but the California restaurant also helped Kunov build his family – he met his future wife, Liset Kunov, and had their first date together at Ruth’s Chris Steak House!
As one can imagine, Kunov’s work ethic and team spirit was acknowledged and rewarded as he worked his way from busser, to food runner before being promoted to a server. He was only in his server role for a few short months before his girlfriend (now wife) Liset wanted to move to Florida.
The Walnut Creek restaurant management team made it possible for Kunov to serve a Ruth’s Chris corporate contact at their location while they were in California. They took note of Kunov’s exceptional service and helped to connect him with a seamless transfer to the Fort Lauderdale location. In Florida, Kunov continued to flourish from server to bartender, willing to pitch in wherever needed. He was put through managerial training to become a beverage manager and today serves as General Manager.
Kunov’s position allows him to shine in the dining room celebrating among guests, and the back of house pitching in anywhere needed. He also appreciates the opportunity to give back to charitable causes near and dear to his personal experience, including the March of Dimes. Kunov solidified his passion for giving back through Ruth’s Chris Steak House – supporting the Cattle Baron’s Ball benefiting the American Cancer Society’s pediatric cancer research efforts for many years.
Kunov feels connected to the company’s Founder Ruth Fertel: (She) “worked so hard and was so passionate about everything and it paid off in the end. I’m proud to work for this company and follow in her footsteps.” All who know him can agree, Aleks Kunov is doing an excellent job at that.