We’re back with another Zarda Bar-B-Q team member in our “Get to Know” series! Suzanne Zarda-Garcia has been involved with Zarda Bar-B-Q for most of her life! Learn a little more about Suzanne, what she loves about working at Zarda, and her philanthropic passions!
1. You’re a Zarda family member – daughter of one of Zarda’s founders, Steve Zarda – how did you get started in the business?
I literally began at Zarda when I was tall enough to see over the front counter, at 12 years old! Through high school and college I worked weekends and evenings in the front of house and drive thru. After graduating from UMKC in 2006 with a degree in a Hospitality Management, I went to work at a local franchise for a national chain to see what life was like on that end of the spectrum versus a family-owned and operated business. It was a great learning experience, but ultimately I came back to Zarda in Lenexa and became general manager in 2009.
2. What’s a day in the life like for you at Zarda?
Curveballs! You never know what’s going to come your way, whether it be taking time with an employee through a teaching moment or assisting a customer with a special need or, more recently, managing product shortages associated with the global pandemic.
3. What aspect of your job at Zarda do you enjoy the most?
Definitely the people. I’m definitely a people person, and I enjoy leading my team and talking to customers. We joke that sometimes I am not only the GM, but the second-mom, nurse, therapist… It’s very rewarding.
4. What is your personal favorite item on the Zarda menu, and what makes it so good?
I love our Limited Reserve Burnt Ends. They’re incredibly tender and juicy – with both a salty and sweet kick from the rub.
5. Tell us a little bit about your family and what you like to do outside of work?
We had our first child, Gabriella, last November so when I’m not at Zarda, I ‘m caring for her, my husband, and also a house full of rescue dogs. I am very passionate about animal rescue! My motto has become, “Adopt, don’t shop!” when it comes to getting a pet. I’m also very close to my family and see my parents and siblings almost daily.
6. What is the one thing on the menu that someone who has never been to Zarda needs to try?
I’d say our Sausage Sandwich is a hidden gem, as well the Limited Reserve Turkey Crunch. I love the chipotle mayo we make in house for the Crunch, it really works!
7. Any favorite memories during your years of work at Zarda?
Gosh, there are so many. It’s the employees that make my job so entertaining – they are literally like family since I have grown up here. On holidays when we know we are going to be slammed busy, we all work together like a factory to make a busy day really fun. We’ll order carry out we can enjoy together after the shift. Food is always a big motivator and a way to show my sincere appreciation for my team.
8. What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time at Zarda?
Probably the level of teamwork and togetherness we have among the team, and the employee buy-in to what we are trying to achieve. Our basic philosophy at Zarda is to always strives to provide the best, freshest food in a super-clean environment by super-friendly and accommodating staff.
9. If you could create one menu item for Zarda what would it be? Describe it to us!
I would love to have a dry rub chicken wing on the menu, with our house-made ranch of course. Something sweet, but also with some heat to it – it would be great for dipping.
10. What separates Zarda Bar-B-Q from other KC BBQ places?
We of course love a having a busy restaurant, a busy drive-thru and great take-out and catering business – we’re truly grateful for our customers, and we’re very proud of the food we serve. Simply put, we want you to bring your family and friends and gather together here at Zarda and enjoy our BBQ.
We appreciate Suzanne and everything she does for the Zarda team! Suzanne has a compassionate heart for animals and shares her support for Mission Driven, an organization that does special drop-ins on animal shelters throughout the Kansas City metro. Suzanne also shares her compassion for animals by fostering and adopting through Unleashed Pet Rescue in Mission. Look for Suzanne at the Lenexa Zarda location. Stay tuned as we feature more Zarda team members in the future!