Throwing a big party at home; treating yourself to a luxurious night out; attending a wedding or other formal function — what do all of these experiences have in common? They all involve cars; a lot of them. Parking can get complicated, especially without ample lot space. Who really has a parking lot sufficient to accommodate a special event at their private residence? Believe it or not, it can be done. Leave parking up to an expert; Douglas English has been providing creative parking solutions for 10 years. As the 31 year old owner of Open Door Valet, Douglas knows what it takes while adding a warm welcome from fun personalities and parking expertise all in the same! We caught up with Douglas to talk about Open Door Valet and how his business has taken Bucks County and New Jersey parking by storm.
Bucks Happening: When did you start Open Door Valet? Tell us a little about your background and what propelled you to start the business.
Douglas English: Back in 2007, I was training to be a waiter at a restaurant called Pete Lorenzo’s Cafe in Trenton (which is no longer in business). During training, I overheard the manager talking to the owner about an issue with the valet not showing up. I jumped at the opportunity and mentioned that I had experience with being a valet. She took note, but nothing came of it immediately. The valet issues continued and the manager decided to give me a shot. At first I was splitting time another valet, but soon my professionalism won out and the restaurant decided to award me 100% of the work! Six days a week, I was on the scene, servicing every car in the ‘valet only’ lot. I got to know all the regulars and always aimed to go above and beyond the call of duty – washing & detailing cars when given the opportunity. I really took a liking to the job (that was much needed at the time) and always tried my best.
After this experience, I went back to work for the valet company I worked for as a teenager. I was soon promoted to manager and became very involved in operations. After realizing that I had what it took, I decided to give it a shot on my own. Black Bass Hotel was my first account, and we’ve been growing ever since!
BH: What has been your most rewarding achievement since founding Open Door Valet?
DOUGLAS: Honestly, I enjoy the business of valet because it’s all about personality and style. I enjoy interacting with all the different people I meet and driving all of the coolest cars. Running my own company has been very rewarding and empowering. It gives me an added sense of self worth, but even more rewarding is the ability to provide employment to others and to mentor my employees on how to become professional and successful people.
BH: Since 2009 you have grown so quickly, servicing many restaurants in the Bucks County area. Tell us about a typical day at Open Door Valet.
DOUGLAS: We have valets stationed at a few 7-day accounts. I’m very proud of the high-caliber restaurants that trust us to perform their valet services, which include Black Bass Hotel, Pineville Tavern, and Bowman’s Tavern in Bucks County and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Peacock Inn & Elements in Princeton. When I’m not actually performing the valet myself, I spend my time reaching out to new potential clients about extending our services to them. I was recently able to bring in the new Spring Hill Marriott across from Sesame Place as a new client with the help of my partner Corey Geiger, whom I took on a little over a year ago. Working is fun for me and I like to hire guys that have good personalities as well. There is always something to do.
BH: What do you love about owning a business that services Bucks County?
DOUGLAS: I am originally from Central/North Jersey but have fallen in love with Bucks County and its unpretentious culture. There is less of an “edge” out here; people are more easy going. I never tire of the scenic views.
BH: Where do you see Open Door Valet in 3 years? In 10 years?
DOUGLAS: We’ve made a name for ourselves providing quality services in Bucks County and Princeton restaurants. As we grow, I would hope to continue that expansion but in 3 years I plan to expand my services to Bucks County residents looking for valet services for private parties, business events & weddings. I also hope you will see Open Door Valet in more hotels. In 10 years, I have plans to provide larger-scale valet services for casinos and hospitals.
Reach out and connect with Douglas and Open Door Valet through their website, opendoorvalet.com. Be sure to like them on Facebook, and remember them when you are planning your next Bucks County special event for all of your event planning needs.
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