North Texas Daily

New Denton restaurant aims to prioritize hospitality

New Denton restaurant aims to prioritize hospitality

New Denton restaurant aims to prioritize hospitality
January 27
10:00 2022

Flying Squirrel, a new eatery on Fry St., may focus on the weirdness of Denton, but it intends to act as an example in the hospitality industry by putting employees first. 

Based around the unofficial mascot of the university, Lucky the Albino Squirrel, the Flying Squirrel serves a menu of jalapeño poppers, chicken and waffles, grilled cheese and more. Flying Squirrel is located at 1216 W. Hickory St. 

Owner and university alumni Adam Hasley wants Flying Squirrel to change how restaurants view their relationship with its customers and employees. Hasley said some customers want servants rather than servers. 

“A lot of people forget human decency when they go to a restaurant,” Hasley said. 

Flying Squirrel had its soft opening on Jan. 14. Hasley planned on opening sooner, but supply chain issues delayed the delivery of several kitchen supplies including their kitchen’s ventilation hood. The hood was meant to arrive on Dec. 3, but they have yet to receive it. 

Flying Squirrel is currently running on bare-bones in its soft opening phase, Hasley said.  

Hasley said criticism of the restaurant’s performance in its first week is understandable, but he wants customers to know any issues are not at the fault of the team, but the responsibility of the owners and management.

Hasley said the restaurant was not able to open with its full potential, but he wanted to make sure Flying Squirrel gave people jobs. 

“We had to make a decision because we had already hired a team,” Halsey said. “Do we let everyone go and just wait for the hood or do we wing it and try our best so we can make sure everyone hired can keep their job? We made the decision that most aligned with our values.” 

Tyler Pierce, general manager and Denton resident, said he was sent the Indeed listing of Flying Squirrel by his partner and became interested in applying after seeing the job title for the general manager was “Ambassador of Absurdity.” 

Pierce said working in the corporate world began to take a physical toll on him. Pierce said he did not want to be a manager who sat on the side and let servers become overworked to the point of tears. He said he was tired of toxic work environments and wanted to create a safe workplace. 

“At the end of the day, we serve fried chicken and salads — this is not life or death,” Pierce said. 

Flying Squirrel creates a welcoming environment for its staff by not mandating a dress code and having employees prioritize themselves over the job, Hasley said. 

“You, as our team members [and] employees, are the top priority,” Hasley said. “We encourage everyone to be their full selves.” 

Jeremiah McGhee, integrative studies junior and shift lead at the restaurant, said Hasley’s word has not been a hollow promise and the Flying Squirrel is committed to treating their staff differently.

“I absolutely love this job,” McGhee said. “I genuinely feel [that]. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.” 

Maddie Kutac, a university alumna and self-described “Flying Squirrel Stan,” said her experience with the staff is the reason she keeps coming back to Flying Squirrel. She said her presence felt genuinely appreciated by staff. 

“Every single worker I’ve interacted with has been abundantly kind [and] sparked and encouraged continuous conversation,” Kutac said. 

The next step for Flying Squirrel includes an overhaul of the restaurant’s current theme and decorations with a look into Lucky’s mythical lore, Hasley said. The restaurant’s menu will also be revamped with a new espresso menu and mocktails as well as gluten-free and vegan items. 

“It’s only going to get better from here,” Hasley said.  

Photo courtesy of Flying Squirrel

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Hannah Johnson

Hannah Johnson

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