Craig Giroux may be best known in Minot for pancakes, but his former co-workers at Applebee's know that Giroux's real passion is people.
Giroux, a 19-year employee of Applebee's, recently stepped down as general manager for the Minot Applebee's to accept a position with O'Day Equipment in Minot. He was feted at an event at the restaurant Friday by company officials, employees and community members.
Restaurant manager Sid Gousheh praised Giroux for his humanity and generosity. He noted how Grioux supported pancake feeds for Special Olympics, community members fighting cancer and students raising money for school trips and projects by offering restaurant space, supplies and his time.
Craig Giroux, left, former general manager at Applebee’s, laughs with Sid Gousheh, manager, at a party Friday to celebrate Giroux’s 19 years with the restaurant.
"Craig has been the best role model in my life," said Gousheh, who worked with Giroux for seven years. "He's really unique in our country."
Capt. Dan Strandberg of the Minot Police Department mentioned the support that Applebee's has given over the years to the department in its efforts to raise money for Special Olympics.
"Craig and Applebee's have always been very good to us," Strandberg said before presenting Giroux with a certification of appreciation and other gifts from the department.
Myron Thompson, co-owner of FMI, said all the company's Applebee's restaurants offer pancake fundraisers as a way to connect with their communities. The Minot store has sponsored many of these events. Giroux excels when it comes to building relationships with people, especially his staff, Thompson said.
"He did such a good job of connecting with his people inside the store," he said.
Giroux credited Applebee's for molding his character. He started with the restaurant right out of high school in 1994.
"I have been extremely fortunate over the years," he said. "I appreciate every opportunity I have ever had. It's been a great journey. ... I have gotten to meet a lot of great people, and it's the people that make it successful."
Employees mentioned their respect for Giroux, talking about his love for laughter and his unflappable disposition in the most stressful of circumstances. One employee used the word "joy" to describe Giroux. But the most lasting impression that Giroux left, they said, was the care he showed for them and for other people.
That impression extended beyond staff to others in the community.
"One of the most inspiring men that I have ever had to work with," said the Rev. Paul Krueger, pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church. "Humble and caring."
Bob Lamont, the company's attorney, said Giroux's contributions are significant when considering the time and personal commitment that it takes to work in the restaurant industry.
"It takes an incredible amount of dedication, not only for the guy who is working but the wife and the children he leaves behind in order for him to do what he does. He had to get the support of his family, and he did," he said of Giroux.
Giroux's wife, Shelly, mother, Dianne, and three children attended Friday's event.
Mayor Curt Zimbelman said the good news is Giroux is not leaving Minot.
"That's an important thing for us because we need that kind of person and that kind of family in our community," he said, telling Giroux that "just hearing about what you have done here from these co-workers, you are an inspiration to all of us."