Greetings! Welcome back to our fun little behind the scenes series for Gracie’s & Ellie’s staff called Service Sessions. For the last two installments we brought you insights from two fabulous team members from the perspective of service from both front of the house and from the culinary team. This time we switch gears to introduce you to one of our management team members, Kendal Fitzsimmons, Gracie’s & Ellie’s Catering and Events Director.
By Kelly Doran
Kendal, What is your role at Gracie’s? I am the Catering and Events Director for Gracie’s and Ellie’s. At Gracie’s, I work with our guests to coordinate the details for their private events. Anything from an intimate dinner party of 10 to a large off-site wedding of 250, it’s my job to ensure the client’s vision comes to life and we not only meet, but exceed their expectations. At the bakery, I meet with couples for wedding cake and guest favor consultations along with detailing large catering orders for social and corporate events.
Did you grow up wanting to plan events? Yes, my passion for planning has been lifelong. I’ve always been the designated planner among my group of friends, from birthday parties to trips, I loved to handle the logistics and making sure everyone had a great time. I first fell in love with event planning when I coordinated my middle school’s graduation ceremony. Little ambitious thirteen year old me, asked for permission to take on this task and I ended up planning it all from start to finish — timeline, speeches, creating programs and tickets, etc. — and even decided that I would lead the ceremony. Clearly, I’ve been outgoing since day one! When I learned that there was industry for this, I knew that’s what I wanted to do and worked towards that in high school and college.
A lot of what you do at Gracie’s is pure Magic- What is the most rewarding part of your job? Hands down, the most rewarding aspect of my job is happy guests. There’s nothing more gratifying than knowing that you were a part of something magical and helped make memories that will last a lifetime. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” and these are words I truly live by. When my clients look back on their event, I want them to smile and reminisce about how they felt in those precious moments.
What’s your favorite server slang? I’d say my favorite server slang is “heard”, essentially the quickest way to convey you’ve heard what someone said and comprehend the message or request. We use it so much in our daily interactions that I have to catch myself not to say it outside of work.
What makes you excited to come to work every day? This list could go on and on! Food and planning are two of my biggest passions in life, so to be able to work at Gracie’s and Ellie’s, two of the most respected food establishments in Rhode Island, is a dream come true. I work with an incredibly talented team and we all share the same mission; to go above and beyond to exceed guest’s expectations. When you surround yourself with teammates who have the same central goal, it fuels your own enthusiasm and truly makes it easy for guests to put their faith in us to plan and execute their event flawlessly. Having the opportunity to bond with our guests and sharing the magic of what we do is incredibly fulfilling.
Being the traveler that you are, how does dining differ from The United States, say, than Barcelona? Besides the food itself, which was largely composed of small tapas rather than full portions, the flow of service in Barcelona and other European countries is far less fast paced. Dining out is intended to be an experience and every bite is meant to be savored. It’s a beautiful thing to slow down, enjoy the company you’re with, and to be present in the moment. Sometimes we lose that due to busy schedules and constantly thinking about what we need to get done next.