June 20, 2024

Emilee Straziuso: QSR Young Leader to Watch 


Emilee Straziuso is a stellar example of an employee who rose through the ranks because of her passion for Balance Pan-Asian Grille and her commitment to ongoing learning. Starting out in customer service in 2014, Straziuso quickly moved into a training lead position, and assisted with opening multiple locations. When the brand revamped its digital learning management system, she took a leading role in the project and moved into an administrative role for the first time before being elevated to her current role as project manager.

“It gave me the opportunity to learn the absolute most that I could,” she says about her career journey. “Not just about the brand and the fast-casual food industry, but rather, how to connect with my teams and motivate them. It served and continues to serve as a base where I am able to proficiently support larger administrative efforts as I am aware of their effects operationally.”

Kanan Pandya, development coordinator at Balance Grille, notes how Straziuso’s prior experience as an employee “brings great leverage to the position, as her deep knowledge of menu and employee culture helps lead our transparent approach to communications with our customers.”

Straziuso’s cross-functional background also plays a pivotal role in providing support for the brand’s franchise community and store employees. “Understanding how to connect with individuals and make them feel seen is more important now than ever,” she says. “All of our brand level efforts boil down to our operational teams and frontline team members. Their contentment and wellbeing is a vital component to ensuring our customers’ satisfaction. If our teams aren’t taken care of, how can we expect our customers to feel taken care of?”

One of Straziuso’s own personal challenges in her career was asking for support, as she admits she used to take on more than she could handle and attempt to do everything herself until she learned to delegate. “I lean on my team often now, as they do the same with me,” she says.

“At Balance Grille, we work to establish autonomy in our workplaces. Allowing our employees a bit more freedom to accomplish tasks in ways that are better suited for them served as challenging as I find myself to be attentive to detail and craving perfection,” Straziuso adds. “Loosening my expectations in an effort to meet people where they are at was a huge challenge for myself. There is a happy medium to be found that lives in between micromanagement and the absence of management. Creating that balance took me some time.”

As for the future, Straziuso is gaining a foothold to become a marketing director for the emerging brand as it grows to new markets. “Balance Grille has big plans in the making,” she says. “I’ve always said that we move slow to go fast; making sure that we do our due diligence and position ourselves into a space where we can put pedal to the metal and make big waves. I am excited and enthralled for what’s to come.”

Pandya adds, “Emilee is a dedicated and hardworking talent on our team. She embodies the Balance brand and ethos, and constantly strives to push the boundaries of her comfort zone with confidence. Her passions outside of Balance include being an advanced yoga instructor, and being a dedicated cat mom to her two furbabies. These passions of hers bring a calming and well-rounded demeanor into the restaurants, which is unique in the food industry.”