Spotlight - Laura Serway: 2020 Key4Women Achieve Award Winner
Hey, Laura. How are you?
I'm doing great.
I'm so excited. I'm sorry. Laura, you know I love you to pieces. I really do, and I'm so excited that you are our 2020 Key4Women Achieve Award winner. You definitely are truly one of our community's highest achievers, and for me, I think you really live the motto that Gandhi said, you know. "Be the change you want to see in the world." And I think of you when I hear that. So I would like to know, you know, you have a very unique entrepreneurial spirit, and you've worked in the media and as a restaurateur. How does your skillset help you in your current role with Laci's Tapas Bar?
Well, you know what, Rachel, it's a real good question. I feel like anything that we've experienced in our past definitely helps us with how we handle things in today's environment and most certainly the relationships. I mean, the key to my business, as it is to your business, is relationships. And when I was in the media, the media industry, and worked at television and radio stations, I got to know a lot of folks in the community. So it was just a very smooth transition to go into the restaurant industry because everyone knows who you are, and you've worked with them. You've had fun with them. And so most certainly, it's helped me with building the business. But really truly, it's the relationship piece as well as the community integration. I mean, I feel that giving back is my way of life, which is why I love KeyBank. I mean, you guys do the same thing. You and I are on several different committees together, so we know this is how business should really be done.
I totally agree, totally agree. What advice would you have for entrepreneurs, especially women, on, you know, how they can elevate themselves and begin their business? And what encouraging words might you have for them?
You know, I feel that, especially as being a female entrepreneur, most certainly the challenges are much greater than with men. I mean, this is still a man's world. And as much as we try hard for it not to be and we work really hard at everything from the hospitality part of my business to the finances, you name it, you know, there's always you've got to deal with this man or that man. And it's, for me, I feel like if I can stand up straight and look them in the eye and say, "Here, this is how I do it," and as a woman, you have got to have that integrity and that ambition level and that passion to want to make a difference for other women and lead the way, right. I feel that I have the uncanny sense about myself that I can joke about anything and joke about anyone to include myself, and that helps me as well. So sometimes, the men, I think, become a little more intimidated because I can look at them as say, "Hey, you don't scare me. "I'm not afraid of what you might do to me, you know." I'm just ready to move foreword and to have fun. But you know, a lot of it has simmered down the last 10 years, if you can believe it. This has been 10 years now, and there are days, though, when someone walks up and I think, "Oh, you have no clue what you're talking about." I let them just continue to talk and talk and talk, and you know, if you're not having fun, you're not living life.
You're not living life, I totally agree with you. And finally, we're all working through some challenges now with COVID. What are some things that we all can do to get us through this and help us achieve and, you know, get to the other side of the pandemic?
Oh, it amazes me, Rachel, some of the individuals that come into the restaurant that have a little sense of entitlement that, "My table, or I can move my seats." I would ask people, "Please, please." I don't make the rules, the governor does, right. My job is to follow them. My job is to make sure you, as my customer, follows them. So my biggest bit of advice for anyone out there is please pay attention to the rules. Don't walk into a restaurant without your mask on, my restaurant, anyone's restaurant. Don't get up from your table without your mask on. Don't feel like it's okay to move your tables and your chairs. Please support your local businesses. This is a difficult time for restaurants. We are going to see many more close in our community. I can promise you that, especially if it doesn't change in terms of the occupancy rates. And listen, I get it. I've been fortunate that I was able to put a tent up quick, get a license quick, and do all the right things. But I really need the help of our community, as every restaurateur does, to please follow the guidelines, help us be really good at being socially responsible. And if that works, we'll continue to stay below 1%, and life is good. And with any luck at all, we'll open things up again.
Wonderful, wonderful. Thank you so much, Laura, for joining us, and we want to congratulate you for being our award winner and taking the time to be with us today.
Rachel, listen, you've been with me, yourself personally, since the beginning. This is an incredible honor for me to be a part of anything that KeyBank does. I am very blessed to have KeyBank in my corner all the time, and there's never a moment that if there's something I need, I know that I can't pick up the phone and call you. You're always there, and I appreciate you.
And Steve and everyone else in the organization, for what you've done for me personally and our community, thank you.
Laura Serway, winner of Key4Women’s Central New York 2020 Achieve Award, talks with KeyBank’s Rachel Galusha about the importance of building relationships, giving back to community and how she handles challenges she faces as an entrepreneur.