Encore Via Everett

It wasn’t long ago that Tabish Iqbal was managing the McDonald’s just down the road from Encore Boston Harbor – winning international awards for his work there from the McDonald’s corporation.

Day by day, out the drive-thru window, he would see the tower of the resort casino make progress up into the sky, and little did he know that his future would be found within the walls of that project down the street.

But that’s just how the future unfolded, and while happy at McDonald’s, Iqbal couldn’t be happier at Encore. He serves…

“I opened up two or three McDonald’s over the last two years and one of them was up the street here in Everett,” he said. “Over the past four or five years, I heard about the Encore project. I would see it with my own eyes every day from the drive-thru window. I followed its progress and it was really amazing to look at the progress and how different it was every day. During that time, I met a lot of people who were part of the construction team. I did research and it was a great company. I’m so grateful to God to be part of this company and to be a part of the opening team.”

Iqbal now manages the largest restaurant on the resort, which is the employee cafeteria – called Le Staff Café. He also manages the Poker Grill, which is the food and beverage service in the Poker Room – which has 75 tables and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. While he is mostly in concert with co-workers at Le Staff, the Poker Room gives him an opportunity to also interface with guests – most of them being regulars.

Le Staff pumps out 3,500 meals per day and is open 24 hours, with each employee getting a free meal during their shift. The café is also very high quality according to many employees, who have said eating there is like going to a restaurant.

“We do 3,500 meals a day and it’s a different environment,” he said. “It’s like a family reunion of employees every day. It’s amazing.

“We want to create a personal experience when they come to both restaurants,” he continued. “What I do different than other places is to make sure they are guests like in a home. We want to make sure our guests feel very welcome and we have a lot of fun at work too. It’s a great environment. Many employees don’t feel like they are working. It’s not like having to go work a shift. Most want to come to work.”

One of the reasons is that employees have great amenities, such as Le Staff Café. Iqbal said he came on in mid-March and began trying to get the Café off the ground. It was a daunting task as it was the largest food service operation, but he said little by little they executed the plan.

He said Encore was great to work with because it was all about learning from mistakes, not being penalized.

“It’s such a difference five months ago to now,” he said. “Yes, we had some pressure, but I’ve opened a lot of restaurants…Here, we feel we need to do something better every day. If you make a mistake, it’s okay, but we don’t want to make the same mistake every day…The employees in food and beverage are part of a family. People are very important to this company. They care about everyone and everybody.”

Working in the Poker Grill, Iqbal said he has learned the names of many of the customers, and said a lot of them are regular players – which helps him to be able to learn more about the customers.

“A lot of people come in five days a week and many come from Everett, Chelsea and Malden,” he said. “Many people went to Mohegan Sun before, but now they come here. I talk to them many times to get feedback and to make things better…People are very happy to come back…Life is very stressful and when you come in here the stress disappears and you care in the moment.”

For Iqbal, helping to transport customers and employees to that stress-free moment is the job of his dreams.

“It’s a pleasure to work with this company, and it’s a really, really amazing job,” he said.

Encore via Everett is an occasional series focused on Everett people working at the resort casino.

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