When Maddie Wood moved to Milwaukee from Florida, her first meal here was at Water Buffalo (now Blue Bat Kitchen and Tequilaria), one of the Benson’s Restaurant Group locations. “The team was passionate, kind and clearly loved their work,” Wood says – and the food was delicious. Searching for a job in Milwaukee, she found that Benson’s, which runs five area restaurants, was looking for a marketing manager, and she applied. She got the job in 2018, and in the four years since quickly rose through the ranks. In 2022, at the age of only 29, she was named the company’s vice president of marketing and sales. “I get to play a small part in memories made between family and friends around a table of deliciously crafted food and drinks,” Wood says. “Does it get more fun than that?”
“Hospitality is the heart of this business.”
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
The most rewarding days here at Benson’s involve big wins with our guests. I get to play a small part in memories made between family and friends around a table of deliciously crafted food and drinks. Does it get more fun than that? I love the challenge of getting to know our guests, what’s important to them, and working with our restaurant teams to provide those significant experiences.
What are some of your favorite dishes at Benson’s restaurants?
I have to physically avoid walking into Onesto so I don’t eat the Rigate Alla Vodka every day. My go-to at Smoke Shack is a pulled pork plate sauced up with Kansas City bbq sauce and cornbread with honey butter. I grew up in the south so Smoke Shack brings me back home. I also couldn’t live without the sweet & salty Fried Brussels Sprouts at Blue Bat.
What advice do you have for women who want to pursue a career like yours?
My first instinct is to shy away from this one, but I’m not going to! I am 29 years old and a vice president of a growing company. I’m really proud of that. My advice is twofold. Learn to advocate for yourself. Put in the time to understand your value and look to trusted sources around you for feedback on how you can sharpen your skills. Secondly, the team you surround yourself with matters. Seek out a team that pushes you to use your talent, trusts your judgment calls and allows you the room to grow and learn.