Ryan Kovac is an Area Coach who currently oversees five Taco Bells in the Olathe, Kansas, market, including DRG’s newest sports-themed cantina in Kansas City. He helped open all of DRG’s cantinas in California and was once a bouncer for the company’s beach-side location in Pacifica, so he knows the ever-popular cantina concept well.
You can tell Ryan is really proud of DRG. He speaks highly of the ways the company has been thinking “outside the bun.”
“It’s really cool to see all this stuff come alive,” he says, reflecting on the latest cantina opening. “This is not just a cantina, it’s a sports bar. It’s a part of Kansas City. And you can’t help but love that.”
“It’s not just a Taco Bell, it’s a place, it’s a landmark,” he continues. “If you go to Vegas, you will see that everybody loves it. People get married there. I think the success really is that it’s unique, it’s pushing the lines.”
Ryan has been working in the restaurant industry since he was 14. His first job was at a “fast casual” Mexican place he likens to Chipotle. He ended up in fast food because he needed a job after college.
Ryan’s career with DRG started with his first meeting with Co-COO Tom Douglas. “I met him in Baton Rouge,” he says. “… and I’m sweating bullets, trying to really figure out who he is and what the company is about.”
Well, he found out plenty that day! Ryan says he could tell instantly that not only was Tom a guy who cared about people and the company as a whole, but he embodied DRG’s people-first culture. Their two-hour conversation resulted in Ryan joining what he calls “the big leagues”; he followed Tom to DRG in 2018.
Not only was it the start of a new chapter for Ryan, but it was also the start of an invaluable mentorship. “Tom just makes it so easy because it’s all about you and your goals, and what you want to achieve,” he says.
Now it’s Ryan’s turn to lead and support. As Area Coach, he enjoys helping employees grow and achieve their goals. He says as you climb the career ladder, you realize it’s “all those people underneath you” that matter so much. “We have no success without them.”
According to Ryan, while there’s ample opportunity within DRG to grow, it’s the company culture that really keeps people around.
“You feel it in this company,” he says. “We care about people.”
One way Ryan sees the company really caring about its employees is in training and development. He also says DRG offers competitive pay and has an incredible employee bonus program he hasn’t seen anywhere else. Even team members can benefit!
What’s next for Ryan? Without kicking Tom out of his job, he aspires to be in his mentor’s role someday. For now, his focus is on growing the people around him. He’d like to see all of his general managers become area coaches like he did.
“A lot of companies say things, this company does things,” he says as he expresses gratitude to leadership and the company. “It’s just been an amazing experience for me.”