In her own words: Squeeze In’s Shila Morris
Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about the Squeeze In and the duties of your position.
Shila Morris: The Squeeze In is a special place. Sure, it’s a restaurant that serves great food, but its so much more than that. The Squeeze In is a gathering place for families to come together, celebrate special occasions, delight in a great, relaxed atmosphere, get served by sincerely happy people and enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company, all while supporting a small local business and a family living their dream. My duties as vice president include guest relations, management support and coaching, training development and implementation, newsletter contributer, marketing counsel and future growth planning.
NNBW: How did you enter this profession?
Morris: In 2004, my parents, Gary and Misty Young, bought their favorite restaurant in Truckee, the Squeeze In. To put myself through college, I started working for them, and three years later, they brought on my husband Chad and I as partners to expand into Reno. By the time I graduated from UNR, I was already co-owner of two restaurants, and though I loved my fields of study in school, I knew that this business was my calling.
NNBW: What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career?
Morris: Stay clear and focused on your own vision and have integrity and dignity in that. Everyone is going to tell you how to run your business or what food you should be serving, or how to do this or that. You listen to input, judge it on all aspects of your business and make an informed decision. With all success there will always be those that doubt, or try to discourage. The second equally important lesson is to learn and to act. Learn every scrap of information you can, and then take the actions to follow in the footsteps of people who have been successful before you. Constantly better yourself and train yourself in your industry, and always take actions and make forward progress.
NNBW: How will the opening of a fourth location in Sparks impact your day?
Morris: I will have to become even more laser focused on delegating. I’ll have a fourth management team to lead, a fourth set of regulars to love, a fourth neighborhood to get involved in, and a fourth set of everyday fires that will need putting out. I’m looking forward to having another location, and the response from the Sparks community has been overwhelming and humbling.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Morris: I was a cashier at Moana Nursery, where I met a very handsome manager that I later married and had children with.
NNBW: Tell us about your dream job. Why aren’t you working it?
Morris: My dream job is where I am creatively challenged everyday. I get to travel and share my talent for solution finding with a variety of people. In my dream job I give a lot of praise and love, and I get to plan fun ways to show associates that they are appreciated. In my dream job I get to follow my passion for business management and writing and I get to control my own time. I would be so passionate and in love with my job that it wouldn’t even feel like a job, but more of a burning love and desire, and so I would dedicate much time, effort and thought to it. I may get up at 5 a.m. everyday to work for a few hours before my kids get up, and then stay up till 10 or 11 p.m. putting in more time, because I was so crazy happy about what I was doing. Oh wait, that is my life and I am already living my dream job! Sweet.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?
Morris: If you have this fancy pants dream of owning a restaurant, you better really look at what it is your after. You’ve got to have that intense passion, dedication and pure love of the industry to keep yourself driven and focused. If you have a fantasy of owning this cute little cafe with the best food and wheel barrowing your loads of cash to the bank, you had better think again. Anyone interested in opening or buying a restaurant should get schooled in the business side of things. It’s a restuarant second, and a business first. You need to know all the business aspects if your going to have a fighting chance at being successful.
NNBW: Tell us about the most fun you have had on the job.
Morris: Serving and working on busy holidays is probably one of the most fun experiences of my life. The one that stands out the most to me is Fourth of July in the Truckee Squeeze In. Everyone in their red, white and blue, enjoying a day off, the parade passing right by the front door, all the kids bubbling with excitement, and the parents bubbling with mimosas it’s really worth experiencing.
NNBW: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Morris: My favorite piece of advice comes from Bob Proctor. It’s a simple saying that rings in my head at a near constant pace every day. He said, “The main thing is … you’ve got to keep the main thing the main thing.” In other words, despite setbacks, detours, failures or naysayers, always stay focused on your dream. That is what’s really important.
NNBW: What are your favorite hobbies or pastimes? How do you spend your time away from work?
Morris: I love to be in nature and experience its splendor. Whether walking my dog through the beautiful Nevada desert or hiking through the jungle in Hawaii, being outside is a powerful source of rejuvenation and happiness for me. I also read at a voracious rate, and it continues to be my most beloved pasttime. Naturally, I also love spending time with my two toddlers and my husband. I also love to indulge in adult beverages, and Chad and I have a particular fondness for finding local pubs and bars and unwinding with a cocktail.
NNBW: If you could live your life over again, what one thing would you change?
Morris: I would change the brief period of my teenage years when I thought I needed to rebel. I hurt my family, and seeing them hurt has always left me remorseful for my actions. Nothing you wouldn’t expect from a 16-year-old, but I hate that I stooped to that level.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Morris: I always wanted to either be a writer or a movie director. I love the creative aspect of telling a vivid story, or changing someone’s views or thought process. In some ways, I think what I dreamed of as a kid is really what I’m doing now, but what 9-year-old says, “I live to be an entrepreneur with a real passion for business management!”
NNBW: What can you do that someone else cant?
Morris: I can mediate any situation. I am almost instantaneously able to see two sides of an argument and help each side understand and be understood.
NNBW: What’s the last concert or sporting event you attended?
Morris: I’m an Incubus junkie (a rock band that helped me through my teenage years) and my mom, sister, best friend and I have been to 10 shows in the last 10 years. The most recent one was in Mountain View, Calif. last fall.
NNBW: What’s your perfect vacation spot?
Morris: My favorite place to vacation is right here in Reno! Chad and I absolutely love getting away to the Tuscany tower at the Peppermill. It’s close to home, yet worlds away!
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working and living here?
Morris: I was born and raised here, and I love this community. I love northern Nevada for the changing seasons, the array of activities, the colorful skyline, the onslaught of fun events, and most of all the people. We are blessed to be surrounded by loving, caring, supportive beautiful people.
Name: Shila Morris, co-owner/vice president, Squeeze In
How long have you been in this job? Four years
How long in the profession? Eight years
Education: Dual major in sociology and psychology, University of Nevada, Reno
Last book read? “Infinite Possibilities” by Mike Dooley
Favorite movie? Hands down, “White Christmas.” It has plenty of holiday shenanigans and heartwarming acts of kindness
What’s on your iPhone? Lots of country, blues, pop and classics. I love everything from Frank Sinatra to Brad Paisley
Spouse/kids/pets? Chad, my husband of six years; (almost) 2-year-old boy/girl twins, Wesley and Emerie; a giant black lab named JB.
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Tiffiany Howard, a UNLV professor and recent Congressional Black Caucus Foundation senior research fellow, is the lead author of the study aimed at identifying ways banks can help support and invest in Black entrepreneurs.