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Interview With John Grace, RAMMYS Manager of the Year Finalsit

July 5, 2017

The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) presents John Grace, manager of The Hamilton. He is nominated for the Manager of the Year award for the 2017 RAMMY Awards Gala on July 30. The Manager of the Year award usually goes to a non-owner manager or general manager in the food service industry who displays the highest level of professionalism and leadership. This person must be an inspiration and mentor to all his/her co-workers displaying outstanding service, an excellent work ethic and a positive image.​

Name and Position:
John Grace, General Manager

What is the hardest part about being the GM of a restaurant? 
As a GM, I feel responsible when we fail to meet our guests’ expectations of their dining experience with us.

…and the most rewarding part?
When I receive feedback from our guests in person, through personal emails, or great reviews sharing how we exceeded their expectations.

How are you influenced by the neighborhood you are located in?
We are located in the nation's capital, which certainly influences us and keeps us on our toes. We welcome international travelers, discerning diners, and countless politicians. In such proximity to the White House and fine hotels, VIPs are frequently passing through and it sets the bar high for us to maintain our highest level of service. Our neighborhood in downtown DC is bustling with great restaurants and different cuisines, which pushes us to work hard for our menu, staff, and service to stand out.  

How did you get started in the business? What was your first job in the industry and what did you learn from it?
Accidentally. I got into the trade by working on the Isle of Man, off the coast of England, for one summer and I caught the hospitably bug. I felt that I found my calling in life and a job that matched my skill set.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself working in our Corporate office as an Area Operations Manager, overseeing multiple restaurants.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Work hard, be kind to your coworkers and guests, and you will do well in this life.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I’d like to be in the movies.

What is your favorite ingredient?
Kerry gold Irish butter.

What insider foodie tip do you have for diners?
Try everything once, break out of your normal dining habits, and trust the creation that the chef has prepared for you.

You’re hosting a dream dinner party.  What three people would be at your table?
Bruce Springsteen, Joe Biden, and Kate Middleton.

It’s the last meal of your life  - what’s on your plate?
A juicy filet, mashed potatoes, onions, mushrooms, with creamed spinach, and a glass of Napa Cabernet.

What are your pet peeves?
Dishonesty, laziness, and unmotivated people.

What is your favorite way to give back to the community?
I like to give everyone a chance if they are willing to work and learn.

Why do you love working in restaurants?
In my opinion, it is one of the coolest jobs out there. No one day is the same, and you just never know what the next day brings. There are highs and lows, and nothing like the comradery among the staff, managers, and chefs. Only in a restaurant can a high-profile VIP walk in unannounced and casually request to dine in your establishment, followed by an out-of-town family with small children looking for a place to unwind and recharge after touring the city. The buzz you feel when your restaurant is busy, is unique to this industry and when your day is nearly over and it’s time for a well-deserved cocktail, you’re in the right place!