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GenXYZ: April Lambatos, 31

Co-owner, Footers Catering

In the 3 1/2 years April Lambatos and her husband have owned Footers, it has grown revenue by 50 percent and won numerous awards.

Footers is a second-generation family business started by Jimmy Lambatos. When you and your husband, Jimmy’s son Anthony, bought the business, did you worry that your work life would spill into personal time?

I oversee the operations and my husband loves the financial side of the business. We make a great team. And it’s been our No. 1 priority since we decided to work together that our relationship will always come first. But we’ve been able to accomplish so much because we can talk about work at home.

The catering business is known for long, grueling days. How does your company manage its reputation of being a great place to work?

It’s long days, nights, weekends and holidays often, but if we create a happy kitchen and surround ourselves with people who love what they do, we succeed. We have an ambassador of awesomeness. Fun is another value. We really strive to have fun. We do things like monthly happy hours or trips to Water World. We even have a game room.

How did you get your start?

I’ve always wanted to do this, so after graduating with a finance degree from the University of Florida, I talked with a lot of top chefs. They all said, ‘Experience is the best teacher.’ And it’s true. I started in the dish-pit at a catering company in Florida.

You mentor at-risk youth. What lessons do you try to impart?

I truly believe you can do whatever you want, but you have to make sacrifices and work incredibly hard. And you have to love what you’re doing. It’s not easy to run a staff of more than 100 … I think people often just see the end product and they don’t realize that the journey to get there is sometimes difficult.

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Maria Martin

Maria Martin is a freelance writer.

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