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Brandon businessman juggles work, charity and family

So you've got a job and you typically put in 40 hours a week, with the occasional overtime effort and even a little weekend duty.

You come home with a sense of achievement.

But you know what? That ain't working.

Maybe you hold down two jobs, juggling the demands of multiple bosses and finding just a sliver of time to eat between the day shift and the night shift.

And you think that's working? Guess again.

If you want to know the true definition of working, meet Darren Dennington, holder of four — count them — four jobs.

And did we mention he's incoming president of the Brooker Elementary School PTA?

Now that's working.

Dennington's labor-intense life is all the more remarkable when you consider his latest employment opportunity is self-imposed. For the past four months, he has been toiling on Parsons Avenue near Oakfield Drive as the owner of the new Copper Bell Cafe.

Why stop with three different jobs when you can have four?

"It's great being across from the (Brandon Regional) hospital," Dennington said. "Business is slowly building."

Dennington, 40, said it's not as demanding — or crazy — as it sounds. His other jobs have provided him a solid background in restaurant and service industry management. With seating for 30, the Copper Bell allows him to pursue the goal of owning his own place without being too taxing. And it's within walking distance of his office.

"You just kind of juggle," Dennington said.

Wait a minute. In my line of work, juggling is having two columns due on the same day. What Dennington does is hyper-juggling.

In addition to the restaurant, he's president of Service With Style, a hospitality group that will evaluate everything a restaurant, hotel or resort does through a secret-shopping process: staff interaction, marketing, service, etc.

One of the more recent Service With Style assignments: spend a week at a Sandals Resort in the Caribbean. He had to submit a report about his experiences.

That's working?

"It's an intense 110-page report that tells them absolutely everything from the guest perspective," Dennington said.

"It's a lot of typing," he added before smiling wryly. "But there is no complaining allowed."

A certified food and beverage executive, Dennington also serves as vice president of a "restaurant coaching" company called Prophit Management Group. It strives to help local restaurant owners with advice and training the big chains get from regional managers and corporate videos.

Dennington said they can assess the performance of managers and employees as well as help with guest complaints and financial management.

The job he did for O'Brien's Irish Pub chain in that area prompted them to permanently bring him on board, giving Dennington a third job.

"They didn't want to let me get away," Dennington said.

So how does he do it all? Dennington is quick to credit his co-workers, beginning with his wife, Shelli, who became his high school sweetheart when they were in the 11th grade in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

"When you have good people surrounding you, you can do a lot," Dennington said.

The couple came to Brandon 16 years ago looking for a warmer future and couldn't be happier about their decision to grow roots here.

In fact, I think what impresses me most is that despite his master multitasking, Dennington maintains a sense of community.

Not only does he stay committed to Brooker, where his daughter Kyra will be a fourth-grader next August, he recently staged a five-week "Cooking For A Cause" benefit at Copper Bell that netted more than $10,000 for local charities.

And in what may be the most important aspect of his jobaholic ways, Dennington says Shelli and Kyra get every free moment of his time.

That's all I'm saying.

fast facts

Cooking

For A Cause

Copper Bell Cafe owner Darren Dennington recently staged a "Cooking For A Cause" fundraiser that allowed prominent community leaders to "cook" for patrons and donate proceeds to the charities of their choice. The effort netted more than $10,000.

Anne Nymark, Professional Accounting, $4,075.17 (Community Foundation of Brandon); Earl Lennard, Supervisor of Elections, $1,816.77 (Boys & Girls Club); Tammy Bracewell, Greater Brandon Chamber, $1,509.61 (YMCA); Mike Fencel, Brandon Regional, $1,063.63 (Brandon Outreach Clinic); George May, American Investment Advisors, $705.54 (Community Roundtable); Tony Del Castillo, St. Petersburg Times, $624.47 (Center Place).

Brandon businessman juggles work, charity and family 06/10/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:48pm]

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