What is your name?
My name is Elysia Schenkman – I go by Ely.
How long have you worked for Chestnut?
I have worked for Chestnut since we opened (September 13, 2012)!
What is your favorite dish at Chestnut?
My favorite dish is the calamari on kale salad. I don’t think I will ever get tired of it.
If you could travel anywhere in the world were would it be?
If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would go to Tibet. My parents got married there, I have a deep connection with that part of the world. The nice part about this job is the flexibility with scheduling and time off. Yak butter tea, yum!
What life lessons has working in the service industry taught you?
Working in the service industry has taught me patience, efficiency, multitasking and most importantly, taking the time to slow down and organize when I feel overwhelmed. This has helped me the most. I have learned that asking for help and delegating is a sign of strength, not weakness. The teamwork at chestnut is so integral to our success. Not taking everything personally was a big one too. People come in unhappy. Generally good service and food help shift this. Sometimes people are unhappy and we can’t help turn it around. I feel terrible when this happens, but have to remember that we can’t please everyone. To quote an wise woman server extraordinaire I used to work with: “we are serving food, not saving lives.”
What has your most memorable experience with a guest been?
It is hard to to recount my most memorable guest experience because there have been so many. I have waited on people celebrating 30 year anniversaries, proposals, engagements, weddings, retirements, reunions, recovering from illnesses etc… It is always such an honor to help people celebrate such important occasions! That being said, accidentally dumping the entire champagne toast on the maid of honor at a rehearsal dinner is definitely something I will never forget. We are not talking one glass here. Her dress was so soaked she spent the rest of the evening wearing a chestnut t-shirt and two server aprons as a skirt while our manager dried her dress in the catering kitchen. She left happy (or at least not furious) Whew. To this day I refuse to carry champagne flutes on a tray.
A story about a favorite regular…
We have this sweet guest that always leaves a thoughtful love letter on the back of her check at the end of the meal. She acknowledges and compliments the server as a human being and gives heartfelt thanks for everything. She comes in dressed to the nines with big fancy hats and perfect accessories. All of the boys that I work with are her “boyfriends” (her partner, always dapper in suit and cuff links, always laughs when she asks for them.) She even made a point to bring me a beautiful Christmas present out of the blue.
We have such an awesome regular base, SO many characters with interesting stories and diverse backgrounds. At this point, seeing them come in is a visit from an old friend. It is great working at a place that promotes genuine human connection, considering good service to be just as important as the food.
What is the nicest thing a guest has ever done for you?
A guest that comes in regularly noted one day that I had stopped wearing makeup. When she inquired, I told her I was starting a company and saving up for equipment. Sadly, not spending on frivolous purchases. The next week she dropped off a big bag of designer makeup in all my favorite colors. She even offered me studio space! This is only naming one recent occurrence, the kindness of our guests never ceases to amaze me.