Rudy McMillan is Hoosier Park Racing & Casino’s resident food guru and is responsible for orchestrating as many as eight restaurants at any given time. He is not your average office professional and can often be found bumping elbows with Hoosier Park’s front-line employees. A lot of the leg work within the organization falls on him and his two hundred and fifty plus staff. The food and beverage department is the “meat & potatoes” of Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and when there is work to be done, the entire department is on the scene to take it up a notch. Rudy is a strong advocate for team work and his department shares those values. “We work as a team,” he said, “and no one’s ego gets in the way.”
The culture of Hoosier Park’s food & beverage department can be traced back to Rudy’s foray into the business. His first full-time job was as a cook at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, California. His time there would shape his professional agenda as well as create some lasting memories. One of those memories was not so pleasant at the time and could have easily led him down a different path.
While working at the Claremont Hotel, Rudy and his team were preparing for a wedding that included a five-tier cake. The pastry chef had forgotten to install two of the cake’s support pillars and when Rudy went to transfer the cake to a table, it immediately collapsed onto the floor. With no time to spare, the guests were forced to wait outside of the venue until a remedy was found. Much like the Rudy of today, he quickly came up with a solution consisting of free champagne for the guests and a reconstructed wedding cake. Looking back, he laughs at this story, but if it wasn’t for his quick reaction it may not have been quite so funny. Regardless of the outcome, it was scenarios like this that taught Rudy the skills to run an entire department of his own. With real life experiences he can relate to his team members all the way up the command chain, give empathy and earns their respect. Rudy’s motto, “Treat team members with dignity and respect, the same as you want to be treated,” is a testament to his experiences.
Rudy continued to learn and grow in the food industry and soon found himself in a director position for a Holiday Inn hotel in California’s Bay Area. Not long after climbing his way up through the hotel food business, his career took an unexpected change. Harrah’s Casino was buying up hotels in California and Rudy was included in the acquisition. He found himself in the casino food industry and on his way to Reno, Nevada. He spent the next years learning the industry and further honing his skills to meet the needs expected of him. He spent some time in Las Vegas where he experienced one of his most memorable professional experiences working the Jerry Lewis Telethon. The telethon exposed Rudy to a nationally broadcasted event as well as hosting celebrity guests. Rudy’s early years out West built a strong foundation for his profession, but the big city atmosphere and concrete corporate structure were less than perfect in his eyes.
Hoosier Park eventually had the opportunity to bring Rudy in as the director of food and beverage and create the perfect match he had been waiting for. The culture at Hoosier Park’s is more a family than an employer and Rudy is the epitome of that. He is outspoken in support of Hoosier Park’s values and asserts that team members should realize that they are working for a company that truly cares about them and their well being. With a wealth of knowledge from his crash course in Nevada, his humble attitude and a foundation built on painstakingly climbing the career ladder, Rudy McMillan is a cornerstone of Hoosier Park Racing & Casino.