These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melissa Stephens was recently appointed catering sales manager of SKYBOKX 109 Bar & Grill.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?
I am excited to combine restaurant service knowledge with my past event planning experience. There is so much potential to do really fun, more creative, memorable events for our customers here in Skybokx's unique spaces.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
I have worked in restaurants for 15 years, and therefore have solid knowledge of operations, food and beverages, from dry-aged steaks to Spanish tapas to Charcuterie boards to Chicken Tagine and Lamb Bolognese, from Wine Spectator award-winning wines lists, to craft cocktails and local craft beers. I have years watching people dine out, reading my tables, anticipating their needs, their expectations, and how to go beyond to give the guest a memorable experience. I have seen the good and the bad and the unimaginable happen, and have learned how to calmly handle the crazy situations that can occur in the hospitality industry.
3. How did you get into the industry?
My first summer job was as a waitress on the Cape. I did the service bar and waited tables, and I remember being terrified of my chef. Oh would he bark at me if I ordered something wrong! However, he did say by the end of the summer that I had turned into a pretty good waitress. My first job out of college was at the Copley Marriott in Boston. I worked at the front desk, and quickly moved into rooms control - I was in charge of managing the room flow for an 1147 room hotel!!! I loved the craziness and thinking on my feet and solving problems. Eventually I trained in sales. When in Los Angeles, I opened a restaurant called Primitivo, a wine and tapas bistro, and I learned an amazing amount about upscale international food. We had a Sommelier and our wines by the glass list was extensive - I learned a ton about wines, proper wine service, and handling new profile Hollywood celebrities - this job got me back into the restaurant world.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
I would love to make Skybokx 109 the go-to restaurant for the local Metrowest community, where you go to watch a sports game, have a birthday party with friends, host an after-work craft beer tasting event, a board meeting, or cocktail hour on the patio while watching the Red Sox play! There are so many choices in downtown Boston area, but not as many here in the suburbs.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
I really love meeting people, bringing folks together with good food and drinks in a laid-back fun environment. I also enjoy creating special events for people: taking people out of their day-to-day to meet up face-to-face to talk and enjoy a dinner or drink together. I like teaching people about a new cocktail or trying a chef's special, expanding their knowledge of food and wine, which then hopefully gives them a new reason or idea to get their group together.