Passionate creations come from the kitchen of Sal & Mookie’s on a daily basis. But long before the doors opened or before there was a kitchen there, Andrew Robertson was helping to create a culture of passion for the restaurant’s guests and employees. The twentysomething left his position with Mangia Bene this week after 9 years with the company. As a former manager at BRAVO!, Robertson was tapped by Mangia Bene owners Jeff Good and Dan Blumenthal to help create Sal & Mookie’s. “We were learning how to build a new concept Jackson had never seen,” Robertson said on his last day this week. “A $32 pizza? Seriously?” Robertson spoke of challenges early on as he had a hand in building menus – and even walls. Working with contractors and against stereotypes, Robertson said the company sought out a unique atmosphere and a diverse and caring workforce. “No one goes to college to wait tables,” he said. The soon-to-be MC masters grad said the aim was to make working in a restaurant – and eating out in one – enjoyable again.

Robertson said the team of employees will be the most lasting memory for him. “Like family” he told us as he described his role as more than manager to most who work there. And it seems that’s how they thought of him, too, as on Monday night, 60 people packed the restaurant to wish him a fond farewell. Robertson said he will also cherish the incredible on -the-job experience he gained. With 15 years in the business, Robertson said he will always be grateful to Good and Blumenthal – “two amazing guys who allowed me to get my hands dirty, make mistakes and learn what it takes to truly be successful.”

Robertson began his new career yesterday as manager of procurement for Saks 5th Avenue in Jackson. But he says, he always has a key to the house so to speak. Good told Robertson the door was always open for him. “(It) makes me feel good to know I’m giving up something I could always return to.”