When Don Shula opened his first steak house back in 1989 to honor his 1972 perfect 17-0 winning Super Bowl season, he purposely incorporated the same coaching principles and traditions into his restaurant that propelled him to eventually become the NFL’s all-time winningest coach. And then he empowered the future leaders of this new family endeavor to inspire their teams as he once did during his Hall of Fame coaching career.
That tradition is alive and well today at Shula’s Steak House Naples, as eight-year employee Eric Boyce has embraced and thrived in the winning system set up for him by the Shula family so many years ago. Head Coach and General Manager, Tom Donahue has been impressed with Eric from the start.
“Eric is the kind of employee that you find once during your career,” Donahue proudly states. “He started here as a breakfast server arriving early every day for an entire year on the 5 a.m. shift, he worked lunch, and would volunteer to work at any special event.”
It soon became apparent that Eric’s abilities were not being utilized to their fullest. In 2011, Eric was promoted as a dinner server and then as a weekend bartender.
“He brought a totally new element to our bar that combined with his professionalism and salesmanship, helped create a more memorable experience for all of our guests,” Donahue said. “Eric was our diamond in the rough. He’s now a seasoned, polished, flawless employee that I am proud to say I work with!”
Born and raised in Naples, Eric usually can be found on the floor serving Monday thru Thursday, and behind the bar on most Friday and Saturday nights.
“What I really like most about Shula’s is that I get to meet different people from around the world staying on business or vacationing here at The Hilton Naples,” Boyce explains. “I also love to serve the locals that I see on a regular basis and talking with them. I always get compliments on how fast and efficient I am – and that makes me feel great!”
In keeping with the Shula traditions of a winning team, Boyce doesn’t hold back on his praise for his co-workers.
“Our staff is led by our GM Tom Donahue, who supplies all of us with everything we need to be successful,” Eric states. “Tom has provided me with extensive liquor and wine training. In fact, in 2012 I won the Alexander Valley Wine contest and Tom sent me and my wife to Napa Valley to broaden my wine knowledge even further. Jeff Jerome is our business development manager and he markets Shula’s better than anyone, always keeping our restaurant and bar busy. Suzanne and Gary are my other two managers who are both very professional and always there to help when needed.”
When Eric’s not at work he spends most of his time with his wife Desirea and sons Aden, Niko, and stepson Sebastian. He loves vacationing, working out with his sons and attending football and baseball games with the family.
“I’ve been fortunate to have met Don Shula, Mike Ditka, Mercury Morris, Larry Little, Jim Kelly and countless others,” Boyce said. “Over my eight years here at Shula’s I can honestly say that I have enjoyed all of the laughs and conversations I’ve had with all of our guests and co-workers. I pride myself of being competitive, and always striving to improve at my craft, and I never lose sight of my most important duty which is to create raving fans of Shula’s through our excellent quality of service.”
Shula’s recently completed a remodel of the restaurant and held their grand re-opening celebration on July 20th, inviting the community to an amazing night of food samplings and specialty drinks. Dave Shula, son of the famed coach and National Brand Ambassador for Shula’s Steak Houses, was on hand to welcome and thank many of the area’s long-time patrons. Also attending were Hilton Naples GM Clark Hill, and Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk.
Giving back to the community is also an ongoing passion for the iconic Naples restaurant. GM Tom Donohue, this year’s Board Chair for the United Way of Collier County, announced the fundraiser, the 4th Annual Craving Fashion was held at the Waterside Shops on September 23rd. Shula’s provided the bar and three food samples. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the bar sales and tips went directly to the United Way. We generated over $13,000! Job well done – The Shula Way.