Jennifer McIllwain


Miss Shirley’s Café

Location: Baltimore, MD
Founded: 2005
Industry: Restaurant hospitality and management

Jennifer McIllwain
Director of Marketing and PR

Years at company: 7

SETTING THE TONE: Jennifer McIllwain began her career with Miss Shirley’s as a server and quickly grew within the company. Today, she leads the marketing department for all three of the restaurant group’s locations. She inspires her team members by keeping a positive attitude, giving praise and encouragement when needed, inspiring creativity and helping them uphold the company’s mission.

QUICK TIP: “Always do your best, and never settle for being good when you can be great.

JUMPING HURDLES: Together with her IT director and district manager, McIllwain implemented a guest loyalty program. The project was a year in the making and required research and analysis of the best loyalty programs to determine what would work for Miss Shirley’s guests, team members and the entire operation, with the goal of rewarding loyal guests so they would continue to return and refer others to the restaurants. “As a group, we grew stronger by working together, and it gave us all a better understanding of each other and what we could accomplish in the future,” she says.

GO-TO RESOURCE: Miss Shirley’s founder Eddie Dopkin, who passed away last year, served as a mentor to McIllwain and helped her become the manager she is today. “His leadership, attitude and infectious spirit for life, people and food continue to inspire me to do my best every day,” she says.