Henrico County VA
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Manager has appetite for service

Food may not be one of the first things you think about when you think of Richmond International Airport (RIC) in eastern Henrico County. But the food, coffee and brew being served at the airport, how they are served, and who’s serving them, is top of mind for Cain Bassett.

Bassett, a native of New Orleans, manages Delaware North Companies’ (DNC) food and beverage operations at RIC. He came to Richmond in 2005.

That was just as RIC was going through what Jon E. Mathiasen of the Capital Region Airport Commission calls, “an historic infrastructural expansion and modernization program.”

Plenty of parking and a bigger terminal are great additions to RIC, but the Commission also knew that taking care of people’s appetites was an important part of the multimillion dollar upgrade.

“The Commission wanted travelers to have a range of attractive options from known brands with an emphasis on customer service,” said Mathiasen, Commission, CEO and president.

Bassett and DNC, a hospitality management firm that operates concessions at airports and sports and entertainment venues around the world, provided the huge culinary change the Commission wanted.

Bassett, 56, who lives in western Henrico, ended up in Virginia as a result of what some would consider bad luck.

“When Hurricane Katrina hit, it basically eliminated my job [at New Orleans International Airport.] We lost everything. Katrina is the reason why we’re here,” Bassett said. “What was important was that my family was intact. I never looked at us as being victims.”

DNC offered Bassett and his wife, Alesia, three relocation choices: Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles or Richmond.

“Richmond has been an excellent move,” Bassett said.

‘The people business’
Bassett’s nearly four decades of business experience started at a New Orleans restaurant that his parents owned. He started helping out there as soon as he was old enough to reach the table tops.

He admits he didn’t always love working at his parent’s place. As a teenager, he envied other teens who didn’t have to work over a hot kitchen grill on weekends. It took Bassett years to appreciate that those hours working for his parents helped him develop a strong work ethic.

When his parents died, he tried running the restaurant on his own. He soon figured out that he had a lot to learn about being a successful businessman.

In his early career, Bassett learned from a master. He spent many hours alongside Al Copeland, founder of Popeyes Famous Chicken. Bassett moved through the ranks learning the restaurant business (or as he prefers to call it, “the people business”) along the way.

He had just taken a job at the New Orleans airport when Katrina hit. Bassett and his wife have become empty-nesters as their four children and six grandchildren now live in Maryland and New Orleans.

These days, Bassett manages the 10 food and beverage facilities that DNC owns or operates at RIC. Applebee’s is the largest. Because it is outside the airport’s security gates, it serves travelers as well as people waiting to pick up family, friends or business associates.

The newest restaurant is the Club Level Grill on Concourse B. Basset and DNC worked with the Commission to open the restaurant and bar, which has a sports theme, last January.

Bassett supervises about 115 employees ages 15 to 74. He credits Copeland and Mathiasen, along with his parents, for playing roles in shaping him as a businessman. He’s determined to share that business knowledge with others.

Tough but compassionate
John Ball, a 1997 Highland Springs High School graduate, has worked for DNC for 15 years. He started as a dishwasher and has moved up to his current position as food and beverage manager. He and Bassett have developed a strong relationship.

“He’s more like a father figure and a boss for me,” Ball said. “If I’m wrong, he’s says, ‘Hey, John you’re wrong,’ and if I’m right, he let’s me know I’m right. I get both sides.”

Ball and Pamela Hamby, a former waitress who now manages Applebee’s while attending J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, agree that Bassett can be a tough boss.

How tough is he? He once fired one of his sons for underperforming on the job.

“[Cain] is strong when he needs to be and he gets his point across, but he’s also compassionate about your needs as an employee,” said Hamby, a Tappahannock native.

Bassett will tell you that this business is not for everyone. However, for some it can be a great career and a source for important life lessons.

Bassett often teaches those lessons to young people in the Richmond area. He speaks at Henrico County high schools and volunteers with Junior Achievement of Central Virginia, teaching first graders as well as high school students.

“By sharing his personal and professional experiences and skills with students, Cain [Bassett] is helping students see the connection between what they are learning in school and what they will need to succeed in work and life,” said Daphne Swanson, president of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia.

Bassett jokes that he teaches young people so they’ll know how to earn money and be able to pay into the Social Security fund that will help cover the cost of his eventual retirement. But as you watch him interact with his young employees, you can see that he relishes his mentoring role.

When you ask him what he enjoys the most about his job, he says, it’s helping people.

“[I enjoy] taking an individual with minimum skills and developing those skills, helping them become a productive part of society. I can tell you stories of people who started out as hourly cashiers and are now running million dollar restaurants. I take pride in playing a small part of that development,” he said.

Then Bassett adds that he’s simply completing the circle that started when his parents taught him “the people business.”
Community

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

Henricus Historical Park to host Publick Day Sept. 20

Henricus Historical Park will commemorate its anniversary during Publick Day, a signature annual event that celebrates the establishment of the second successful English settlement in the New World. In September 1611, Sir Thomas Dale, along with soldiers, tradesmen and farmers, ventured from Jamestown to create the Citie of Henricus. Leaders of Henricus developed the first English hospital, chartered the first college in North America, established tobacco as the first cash crop in Virginia, and created a place where Pocahontas lived and met John Rolfe.

Publick Day will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $5 per vehicle. > Read more.

Commonwealth Parenting, CMoR-Short Pump to present 6-part parenting forum series

As part of its 30th anniversary year and partnership with the Children's Museum of Richmond, Commonwealth Parenting will present a six-part RVA Parents Forum Series to address some of the toughest issues confronting parents.

Parenting experts and family educators will tackle topics ranging from bullying to alcohol, sex to divorce, and technology and stress. Parents will learn how to identify potential problems.

"We're excited about bringing this much-needed forum series to parents in central Virginia. Through our valuable partnership with Commonwealth Parenting, we can have a deeper impact in the community through parent and caregiver education," said Karen Coltrane, president and CEO of the Children's Museum of Richmond. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Check out these three B’s in Henrico this weekend: books, bluegrass and “Born Yesterday.” Other activities to participate in – and feel good about – are the 15th annual James River Regional Cleanup and the 5th annual Richmond Out of the Darkness Community Walk. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

When the cliche stands tall

Inspirational football movie tries too hard for its own good
When the Game Stands Tall is based on a true story – an unbelievable true story that takes the word “inspiring” about as far as it can go.

It’s a film about Bob Ladouceur, coach of the De La Salle High Spartans, a California high school football team with 12 consecutive undefeated seasons (a staggering 151 games won in a row).

Along the way, Ladouceur (played by Jim Caviezel) faced the kind of hardship most football coaches (thankfully) can only imagine – suffering a near-fatal heart attack, the death of a star player, and rebuilding the team after that 151-game streak came to a humiliating end. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy political comedy at its finest with The Capitol Steps at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. Methodist and Baptist churches unite for the fourth annual Mission Footprint 5K, taking place at Trinity UMC. Or in honor of Grandparent’s Day on Sunday, treat them to A Grand Family Affair or maybe a movie – the 1978 film “Superman” is at the Henrico Theatre. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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