Sebastian’s, 6025 Douglas Ave., is a well-known Caledonia establishment. But what you may not know is that one of the driving forces behind the restaurant, Cory Sebastian, is only 28.
“She oversees everything but the kitchen,” said Scott Sebastian, Cory’s father, who works as the chef at the family-run eatery.
On top of working as the restaurant’s general manager, Cory also has another goal: Advancing Racine.
She juggles her remaining open schedule teaching etiquette to Racine Unified middle schoolers, writing grants for Racine-based organizations, and working with local nonprofits.
The Journal Times reached out to Cory to ask how she got to where she is and what motivates her. Here are the responses she gave via email.
How did you get involved in the restaurant business? Was it your plan since you were young?
I grew up in it and always had an appreciation for food and hard work. Watching my parents with their restaurants was very inspiring, but I didn’t decide to make it a career until working at Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro while in college in Milwaukee.
Lake Park was my favorite restaurant growing up, and having the opportunity to serve there at such a young age really made me want to give it everything I had. That is when I started studying wine and food and observing the intricacies of professional service. The people I worked with were so talented, and I was drawn to it. I found myself wanting to work hard and then doing really well, and I was hooked. After 5 years, I knew it was time to go back to the restaurant that really started it all for me. That’s when I took my roll at Sebastian’s.
What’s your favorite part about managing Sebastian’s?
I love going to work; our staff is amazing. I get to accomplish goals with some of my favorite people. Our guests are equally amazing. The people who walk through our door are simply the best, and both are like family to me. It is hard work; fast, stressful and full of energy. It’s a performance that is never the same two nights in a row. I love that!
What motivates you?
Making people happy has always motivated me. Being able to make someone smile and feel special, and to facilitate someone’s perfect evening is huge for me. That being said, the idea of striving to make things the best they can always be motivates me, too.
What’s your favorite part about Racine?
The people. The people who live here are proud and have genuine care for the community. Sure, Racine gets a bad rap, but if you look closely and stop focusing on the negatives, Racine is a beautiful place. There are so many people trying to make it great again.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
“Live a life you wish would never end.” It was my dad’s high school yearbook quote, which also become mine.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Through my involvement with the nonprofit sector, I hope to find additional avenues to reshape the landscape of our community.
If you could describe Racine in one word, what would it be?
Would you encourage new college graduates to return to Racine?
Absolutely. I never thought I would return to Racine, and I am so thankful I did. There are many opportunities here with the landmark corporations, hospitality sector, education and government. Young educated minds with renewed perspective will help redesign the future of Racine.