Mon Valley's Moses puts mark on restaurant business
By Ron Paglia
Published: Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009
Mark A. Moses likes to tell the story of how he got started in the restaurant business as a young boy in Donora.
"When I was tall enough to stand on a bar stool and pour a beer at my dad's bar at the Irondale Hotel," Moses said. "That's when I got hooked. I enjoyed being there and thought I might like to do that somewhere in the future."
Today, nearly 50 years later, Moses, 54, continues to see his dream come true as a joint venture partner with Outback Steakhouse in Colorado. He has responsibility for three Outback venues in Colorado Springs and seven in the Denver metropolitan area.
"I often think about those days at the Irondale," Moses said of the popular landmark owned and operated for many years by his late father, John Moses. "We were living in the hotel and we were very fortunate to have a great group of boarders including William "Bull" McCleary, Andy Remora and Bill Koskoski to name a few; my uncles, Joe Marynchak, Gus Jurik and Walter Kelly, and my dad's best friends, Francis "Gooch" Rongaus and Moach Mongelluzzo, to help teach me the value of having fun, taking care of your friends and the importance of integrity."
Moses also helped his mother, now Beverly Ford of Carmel, Calif., and Koskoski cook in the Irondale kitchen.
"Who could forget stuffing and cooking hundreds of deviled crabs every Friday?" he said. "The customers loved them."
He also assisted his father and his aunt Florence Neil every Wednesday cooking for the Lions Club and other community organizations that met at the Irondale.
"Aunt Florence made the best pies in town," Moses said. "My favorite was her lemon meringue pie with the delicious filling and the topping piled real high."
Moses also recalled that he "inherited" the job of cleaning the bar when his cousins, Tommy Kelly and Bobby Neil, "got too old to do it." He also worked for Gus and Frita Costas in their catering business for many years.
While he learned about the restaurant business from his father, Moses also gained a far more important lesson in life from the elder Moses.
"My dad had a huge influence on my values of giving for the sake of giving," Moses said. "I watched him take care of many of our boarders at the Irondale for many years, making sure they were fed and housed, received medical attention, and were buried with dignity when they passed. When the Irondale closed, dad rented a boarding house around the block from the hotel and continued to care for and about his boarders.
"I watched him take food to them, take them to doctors' appointments, and make sure they had dignity in their lives for many years. Dad helped a lot of people in the Valley without ever asking for or accepting recognition. He did it because it was the right thing to do. His behavior had a major influence on all of the Moses kids and helped shape our values as we grew up."
Those experiences set the foundation for Moses' future.
"They were valuable in terms of an education that went far beyond the traditional classroom and textbook setting," he said.
Moses made a firm decision to enter the restaurant management profession as he was about to graduate from Grove City College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1977.
"I was standing in line to sign up for job interviews when it dawned on me that I did not want to be a salesman, I wanted to work in the (restaurant) industry," he said. "At that time, however, you had to have a 4.0 GPA and know someone to get a decent job. I applied to several hotel-restaurant management schools and was accepted to four of the best schools in the country at the time, including Cornell and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Takes Dad's advice
"When I sat down with my dad and told him I wanted to be a chef, he gave me this advice: 'Son, if you want to spend the rest of your life in the kitchen cooking, be a chef. If you want to own a restaurant, go to hotel-restaurant school, get your degree and visit the kitchen whenever you want to.'
"So I loaded the car and headed to Las Vegas and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in hotel-restaurant management. I guess it's like the old saying, 'Father Knows Best.'"
Moses was working for Longhorn Steakhouse and traveling extensively when he received the offer that took him to Colorado.
"My children were at the age that they needed their father to be home instead of on the road opening new restaurants," he said. "I had been talking to a few good friends who were in on the ground floor of the Outback Steakhouse over a 10-year period about joining the Outback team, but I always had other opportunities to pursue.
"I received a call from one of my friends in 1999 and he said, 'We have an Outback Steakhouse in Aurora, Colo., that needs a proprietor. If you say no this time, I am never going to call you again.' It just happened to be perfect timing as my contract with Longhorn was up.
"I accepted the Outback offer and it afforded me the opportunity to manage one restaurant and watch my kids grow up. It turned out to be one of the best moves of my career."
Moses and his wife, the former Amy Beth Somerson of Cherry Hills, N.J., have been married 21 years.
"We met when I was a general manager for Bennegan's Tavern in Mount Laurel, N.J., and she was general manager of The Limited clothing store in Cherry Hills," Moses said. "She was a good friend of a member of my staff who introduced us."
They were married in New Orleans on Oct. 8, 1988, and are the parents of two children -- Brittany Nicole, a freshman at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where she is studying to become an elementary school teacher, and Jonathan Daniel, a senior at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora.
Moses, who was born April 8, 1955 in West Hollywood, Calif., and arrived in Donora at age 2 when his parents returned there, is the oldest of four siblings.
His brother Jeff is the founder and owner of Night That Never Ends Productions, a festival promotions company, and its parent company, MBF Co., a distributor and importer/exporter of beer, soda and wine throughout the world, based in Monterey, Calif., and their brother, Jay Moses, is CEO of a multimedia company in New York City.
Their sister, Kim Moses, and her husband, Ian Sander, are executive producers of the hit television show, Ghost Whisperer.
Moses attended Bethany College in West Virginia for one year before transferring to Grove City. He played basketball as a freshman. He also lettered running the mile with the Bisons track team.
Although he has lived in major cities across the United States and traveled to others in a 31-year career in food service and restaurant management, Moses will never forget his roots.
"Growing up in a small town allowed us to develop love and respect for family, friends and neighbors," he said. "It allowed us to develop a sense of community that has been lost in our modern society.
"Kids today have their time scheduled every minute of the day because parents are afraid to take their eyes off their children. I understand that we live in a totally different society and cultural atmosphere, but too many kids today are raised by television and computers.
"In contrast, we grew up in a magical world that we were free to roam, as long as you didn't go past the Spanish Club, the Donora Bridge, Second Street extension or Highland Terrace. We learned to respect our elders, honesty, integrity, self reliance, work ethics, conflict resolution and to say 'please' and 'thank you.' You can't put a price tag on that kind of education."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Pitt looking to enhance profile at ACC tourney
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- South Park engineer aboard missing Malaysian Airlines flight, employer says
- Penguins notebook: Beau Bennett returns to practice
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- Pirates reserve outfielder Dickerson is also at home on soccer pitch
- LaBar: WWE’s next stars have arrived
- W.Pa. engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Context key to 2nd trial of Pittsburgh police officers in Homewood man’s arrest
- Tuna fritters: A taste of the Caribbean, with an Italian twist