Welcome to Front & Center, a series highlighting front of the house professionals in Chicago restaurants. Right now, Andrew "Kappy" Kaplan, Rachael Ray's director of special projects, writes about Joey Graziano, a server at NoMI.
If all servers in Chicago, smiled, cared, guided and were as attentive as Joey Graziano, Chicago dining would be a better place. Well, not really... well, kind of. I have had Joey as my server at NoMI Garden quite a few times. As a good diner knows, great service can always make the food that much better, but crappy service sometimes cannot make up for good food.
Whether it is a beautiful day, about to rain, hot as heck, or whatever situation comes about, Joey is A+. He greets the table with a smile, guides you when you ask for his suggestions, and supports your tweaks to a cocktail or dish.
Case in point; I've had my share of cocktails in the NoMI Garden from the Part & Parcel to the Two Step and plenty of Pimms' Cups this summer, so when I came across the NoMI Garden Refreshments section (non-alcoholic), I noticed the Lion & Wolf.
It had lime juice, fresh cherry juice and seltzer. I turned to Joey and said, "how about the Lion & Wolf (pause) with Tito's vodka!" He slyly nodded and said, "I think we can do that; that sounds good." I thoroughly enjoyed the drink and tried to convince Joey to add it to the menu. He said he'll see what he can do. If you make it to the garden before summer's end, try it ... and thank me later @OnKappysPlate.
Joey doesn't bother you, he checks to see how your food is and makes sure your meal is up to par. When you go enjoy an afternoon at the beautiful NoMI Garden, it's always a plus to have great service to accompany the great, fresh food and desserts. Joey shows "customer empathy" ... something all servers should practice.
— Andrew "Kappy" Kaplan