Hello! Welcome to the very first Gracie’s Service Sessions. If you ever wanted an inside look into the lives of our team here, you’ve come to the right place. Not only do our servers tend to your needs, but they keep Gracie’s and our mission alive and growing. This project was designed to give you a glimpse of the inner workings of a Gracie’s team member. For our first ever Session, we have Anat Sagi, a Front Server who’s been with Gracie’s since 2015. Read on to find out what keeps Anat so dedicated to the industry and to Gracie’s.
By: Kelly Doran
Tell me a little bit about yourself. How long have you been in the industry? What drew you to the Industry?
What drew me to the industry was that I had the opportunity to work in my aunt and uncle’s French restaurant in Brookline, MA. This was in 1979 or ’80—I was 9 years old. My father used to come in and use the washer and dryer in the restaurant to wash and dry the linens. He used to shampoo the rugs on Sundays, in the early morning hours before we opened for brunch. I’d come in to hang out with him and spend some time. I started answering the phones and taking reservations. Little by little, I got more into it. At that point, I never got paid or anything. It wasn’t a job. It was just something that I really loved. People were really responsive to that. People would come in and ask who the little girl answering the phone was. It got to the point where I could fill my uncle in on the detail of how many guests we’d had that night, or—and this was before computers—I could give the details. It’s something I’m grateful for that I’ve learned. I learned how to fulfill whatever needs the guest had.
This was something I was born into.
How has working in the industry changed your point of view while dining out?
I thought about this question a lot, and it’s evolved over the years. Different experiences and different restaurants have taught me different things. Being a baker at Whole Foods Market back in the day, everything I’ve done in this industry has taught me one lesson or another. There was a time I was very, very critical of foodservice and restaurants. I think what I look at most, what I value most now is atmosphere. If it gives you a feeling of home, that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for a connection with the server; I’m looking for the most pleasant atmospheric environment . I don’t need “ expensive” or fine, I don’t need over-the-top, I don’t need you to do that for me. Be down to earth. That’s what I offer, so that is what I’m looking for in return. I really enjoy the vibe that brings people together.
Tell me about a time where you’ve had a particularly challenging guest.
Gosh! I really tried to come up with something for this question. I don’t know if there is one story. I think it’s really challenging when guests are dismissive… I want to give you the experience. I don’t know how to react when people are dismissive. To this day, I kind of have to take a deep breath when this happens. I bring who I am to work every day. I’m doing what it is that I love. I can’t fake it. People will ask me how I sell tastings and it’s because I’m excited for it and I believe in it. I think that’s what people see. When people are dismissive of me, I feel like I can’t give that, the full experience. It’s harder to figure out what experience they are after, and is much more difficult to create a relationship. It’s a pet peeve of mine for sure.
Being a server, you have to have the gift of gab. We’re you always comfortable talking to people growing up?
People used to tell me I should be a politician. It’s funny, when I was little, back to when I was 9 years old, I’d get my muffin, sit, and talk to people walking by on a Sunday morning. Just now am I learning to appreciate it. There is video of me, in my own baby speak; I had my own language and I’d talk, and try to have conversations with people, just babbling away. Talking to other people keeps my soul moving.
What’s your favorite server slang?
OMG, this question! “Heard” is one I use the most—it makes sense,. Heard, I get you, I understand. “Behind!” I use this in the supermarket, on the street. I like “86’d.” “Seagulling” is a good one ( where a server or busboy eats food off a plate they clean off from a table). We’d say, back in the day, “stop seagulling that plate!” Those are some words; some of my favorite that are needed in server life!
What makes you excited to come to work every day?
This is what I’m good at! This is what I do well. I come in to feel that success. When I lived in Israel, there was a connection to people on a regular basis. People in The Middle East are very warm. I should point out that that is my heritage. People come over your house, they hang out; it’s family, friends, the door is always open, literally. You just show up. That is perfect! You don’t really have that as much here. Cities are bigger. To have that connection with people on a regular basis is exciting! It’s a really nice feeling; one that I connect to well. What makes me excited to come to Gracie’s specifically? I love the uniqueness of Gracie’s, and how it treats its people. I also really love how I grow in terms of food and beverage knowledge. The food and beverage knowledge is one of the biggest takeaways for me every day. I go home, and spend time looking up different things that we’ve learned at Gracie’s. If you want to succeed, if you’re not passionate, you won’t succeed here. It requires a lot out of you, and you can’t fake it. If you do, you’ll be found out sooner or later. Don’t fake it!
I grew up with career servers. That’s who trained me—people who would be in the industry forever. It made me be a better server because I wanted it. Tell me I can’t do something and I’ll do it, better than expected. Maybe that’s the mindset I have for new people who come in… don’t you want to be the best you can? If you’re going to come into this industry, come full of passion, come full of desire to understand why things work. Come to understand the reasons why you are doing what you’re doing. Definitely, appreciate the people you’re working with. The kitchen here are working unbelievable hours, and I will always give them kudos. I staged in the kitchen because I wanted a better perspective. Appreciate the people who work with you, the kitchen, the dishwasher, the bus boy. Success as a server comes when you respect all the moving parts.