The Colony developer impacted many local restaurateurs, tennis pros as their manager.
Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber wasn’t above picking up trash.
Ken Byers recalls Klauber’s unwavering insistence that service at the Colony be impeccable. So if he saw something out of place, he’d fix it himself.
Today, Byers thinks of Klauber when he tends to a small matter in an office building he owns.
“He was not such a big shot to be too good to help out,” said Byers, who owned a neighboring unit to Klauber’s at the Colony.
Likewise, one of Klauber’s sons, Tommy, said he would carry bags to guests’ rooms and help with check in.
Tommy Klauber and his siblings, Katie Moulton and Michael Klauber, all worked for their father at a young age. Tommy Klauber said they did everything at the resort from washing windows and cleaning the beach to shaking hands, holding the door and dressing up for their father’s Sunday night cocktail parties.
That attention to detail was all for the guests, as Klauber once explained to tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, who recalls Klauber telling him that it was all about making the guests get more than they paid for when they visited.
Bits of Klauber’s managerial style are found in the Sarasota area today, and not only from his three children. The list of chefs and restaurateurs who worked for Klauber is distinguished — Michael Garey at The Lazy Lobster, Sean Murphy at Beach Bistro, Tito Vitorino at Amore, Harry and Lynn Christensen at Harry’s Continental Kitchens, Ray and D’Arcy Arpke at Euphemia Haye and Jamil Pineda at Michael’s On East to name a few.
Pineda, who worked at the Colony for 10 years, said Klauber once asked him how he manages people. Pineda said Klauber was happy with the response: He likes his staff to serve the customers while having fun.
“It’s boring to have somebody who just comes in and does the job,” Pineda recalls Klauber telling him. “I want these people to have fun and enjoy themselves because if they enjoy themselves, they’ll enjoy what they do.”
Jordan Letschert, whose uncle, Titus Letschert, left his job in New York to come to the Colony and work for Klauber, said his uncle wouldn’t have moved unless he knew he was going to be learning a lot. Eventually, Titus Letschert opened Cafe L’Europe and Cafe on the Bay.
“When you trace back anyone’s restaurant legacy, there’s sort of a lot of them going to my uncle and a lot through my uncle go to Murf,” Letschert said.
Murphy said Klauber, whom he called a mentor, taught him to have a hospitable attitude all the time, which is something Klauber literally bore on his chest every day with a pin on his lapel that said “attitude.”
“Every fine dining establishment on the Gulf Coast has borrowed something and learned something from Doc Klauber,” Murphy said.
And whether that something was as small as putting flowers in long, thin vases so conversations aren’t blocked or as lasting as the persistence of being present, Klauber’s former employees carry his lessons with them today.
“I think he was proud of how we all moved on,” D’Arcy Arpke said.
Outside of the kitchen atmosphere, Klauber influenced his employees on the tennis courts, too. Sammy Aviles came to the Colony in 1976 with Nick Bollettieri when Klauber allowed Bollettieri to open a tennis academy there.
“He was almost ahead of the industry,” Aviles said of Klauber. “(He was) always a little step ahead and knew what we want to do and how we’re going to do it when people didn’t believe that was going to happen.”
When asked what Klauber taught him, his answer was simple.
“Not to take ‘no’ for an answer and to keep working at what you believe and go forward with it,” Aviles said.