I entered the hospitality industry in 1986 when I started washing dishes at my parent’s restaurant after I was informed I had to. I made the leap from dishwasher to chef when my mom and our then-chef at Eleni’s were both simultaneously incapacitated; my mom by a case of Pneumonia and our chef by a case of Old Milwaukee. Cooking proved to be a natural skill acquisition for me as I’d always delighted in setting things on fire.
After Eleni’s, my professional highlight was a two months stint as Back-Stage Buffet Line Manager for Spandau Ballet’s 1996 cross-country reunion tour. I didn’t get paid or learn anything culinarily.1 But I did get to hear an acoustic version of “True” during a show on a Mississippi River Wheel Boat that quite frankly, captured the sound of my soul. You can’t put a price on that.
Hobbies: I enjoy reading and will devour any book featuring realms, dimensions or worlds; fashion leanings that include shrouds, parkas or ponchos that render their wearer invisible; animals that shouldn’t be able to fly but can; elves and/or forest pixies with magical powers;2and a plot where an imprisoned princess can only be saved by a simple farm-hand from the middle realm who doesn’t know that in reality, he is a prince of the upper realm. If at some point during the story someone wields a flaming sword while riding on an air-borne unicorn, I’ll read it twice before lunch rush.
I am particularly fond of wearing indoor-outdoor shirt-jacket hybrids that are as comfortable as they will be stylish by the time I turn 70.3
I also enjoy dining out; yelling for reasons that are only known to me;4 and managing the expo line in attire that suggests I am always arriving to work straight from a Don Ho concert.
Greatest Regret: In the early 90’s I worked with both my brothers at a Greek restaurant in San Francisco. One night there was a situation where a guest wasn’t happy about something or other. John came to the kitchen and started blaming the other cooks and me. Words were exchanged, things escalated, and before I knew it, I had grabbed a lemon and threw it across the kitchen at John’s head. To this day, I regret that I missed.5
What Great Hospitality Means to Me: It means what Olive Garden wants you to think it means by using actors to say it in their commercials: When you’re here, you’re family. And that’s no act.6
What I Most Like about Jack’s:
Little Known Facts about Me:
I started in the restaurant business in 1986 when my parents, after opening Eleni’s in the Clayton Valley Shopping Center, soon discovered that we didn’t have anybody to nap in the car while John and David worked.1
A perfect fit for the job, it did not take long for me to discover other places to nap, like the bathroom and the boxes of produce in the storage room.
After Eleni’s closed, I moved to LA to pursue my life-long dream of being Hugh Hefner and/or owning a black leather sectional with 12 cup holders.2 To achieve my dream, I became a nightclub promoter.
I was a nightclub promoter for several years in Los Angeles. This was a grueling job that called for 90 – 100 hours of work every year. As you can imagine, the stress of working two to three hours on a regular basis every Saturday and once-a-month on Fridays finally got to me. For proper work-life balance I had to scale back to 7 to 8 hours once a year for my annual Playboy Mansion Party.
Why I Left the Club Life: I don’t know. I don’t know.3
Greatest Achievement: Adding a sub-woofer system to the trunk of my Camaro in 1988 that put-out so much wattage it jolted my car, banged my head on the interior roof and knocked me unconscious when I put on “Brass Monkey” while waiting at a stop-light at the corner of Ygnacio Valley and Clayton Road.
My Personal Interests: My passion – professional, recreational and spiritual – is to always point things out. My other passion is to defer making any immediately needed decisions indefinitely. Additionally, I am fond of developing painstakingly superfluous back-stories to vignettes and anecdotes. Also…meetings.
What Great Hospitality Means to Me: It means what it meant to our mom: Cook great food. Be nice.
Plus it doesn’t hurt to throw in 80-inch HDTV’s and Dolby Surround Sound speakers…heavy on the bass of course.
What I Love About Jack’s:
Little Known Facts about Me:
I have been in the restaurant business since 1986 when my parent’s opened Eleni’s in the Clayton Valley Shopping Center. Not a minute went by there that I didn’t cherish.2
Official Jack’s Title: Tactical Liaison for the Department of Merriment and Mirth Enhancement Tasked with On-Going Quality Control and Distribution of Jameson Shots.
Likes: Calling everyone “my friend.” I like yelling “COME ON PEOPLE!” to motivate the staff and/or cover up for the fact I’m not sure what’s happening. I enjoy espousing, with equal conviction, contradictory ideas in the same sentence.
Hidden Talents: The game Labrynth, making rice, simultaneously watching twelve shows on television. I can also see the future, an ability inherited from my Greek oracular ancestry in general, and from my warlock great-great grandfather in specific.3
Little Known Fact About Me: For five years I impersonated an adjunct professor of Communication Studies at the University of San Francisco. Was finally discovered when in-coming students began asking Registration where they could sign up for the Public Speaking 101 Class held at O’Neils Pub.
Not-So-Great Moments in Restaurant History But A Great Moment in Public Health Policy: In the late 80’s, while bussing a table at Eleni’s, I accidentally spilled an ashtray full of cigarette butts and ashes down a guest’s blouse. The ensuing fall-out, and not the effects of second-hand smoke, was the actual precursor to banning smoking in public. 4
What Great Hospitality Means to Me: Dining transcends the simple act of sating hunger. In homes, when a meal is planned and prepared, when family sits together to enjoy the cook’s labors, they are perpetuating a heritage and a grandmother’s lessons. It is where the right aromas can recall, like nothing else can, our childhood. Where the day’s adventures are plotted and later, where its most significant events recalled. It is where glasses are raised in honor, in pride, in recognition and in toasts to each other. Where a meal painstakingly planned and perfectly executed, persuades romance in our favor. It is where on a Saturday morning, over pancakes and coffee, it occurs to us that we have fallen in love.5 Where a girlfriend says yes to a lifetime proposition.6
Great hospitality means remembering in our restaurants all that is sacred and sublime in the act of sharing a table.7
What I love about Jack’s:
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