Name: Jasmina Boric
Title: Associate General Manager
Year started: 1999
Most surprising discovery of the Southern diet: Greens
Two decades ago, Jasmina Boric joined 200,000 fellow Croatians who made the gut-wrenching decision to leave their homes in the war-ravaged former Yugoslavia.
With her former husband and their two girls in tow, the family tried first to reach Scandinavia but were unsuccessful. When the United States agreed to accept more refugees, they applied and were accepted.
Arriving safely in America, the family’s path wound its way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They arrived in 1999, each one clinging to a single bag of belongings and unable to speak a word of English.
Boric applied for a job with one of Piccadilly’s Baton Rouge locations. She was hired and arrived with a translator who related every word between Boric and her managers.
“I did small things in the kitchen, washing dishes. There wasn’t much else I could do, because I couldn’t read the menu,” Boric says.
Soon after, the general manager took Boric aside and said she would join the team waiting tables. Boric recalls her reaction as near panic. Waiting tables meant interacting with guests and talking to them.
“It meant I couldn’t be with the translator,” she says, managing to chuckle about it now. “But we took it one day at a time. I started learning, and doing homework with the kids helped.”
Each day, Boric learned a little more about her new language and culture, as well as the food-service industry. After 12 years, she was invited to join Piccadilly’s management training program. She still works at the same location 20 years after she started, now as associate general manager.
Boric doesn’t try to forget the difficult journey. She incorporates her life experiences into her work for Piccadilly.
“I use it especially when hiring people. They often find a lot of hope when I tell my story. I tell them, ‘You can do this. I had nobody who could even understand what I was saying.’”
She’s also quick to credit the company for sticking by her over the years. Piccadilly managers believed in her more than she believed in herself at times, she says.
“They were very supportive. I got here as a 27-year-old from Croatia, and I’m now running a restaurant. It didn’t come easy. I had to work hard for it, and I did it,” she says.
She knows every single one of Piccadilly’s recipes, which, by the way, aren’t so foreign. Growing up near the Mediterranean coast, Boric was quite familiar with the seafood, roux and gravy.
“The food is actually similar. Everything except the greens,” she laughs. “In 1999, I didn’t know people could love greens so much.”
There is one flavor from back home she misses – breakfast sausage tucked in pita that gets grilled and served with sour cream and onions.
“When you taste it, you don’t forget it.”