John Dettori: Super Service
John Dettori, director of Dining Services for Lackmann Culinary Services at Tiffany & Co. in New York and New Jersey, admits he is a “talker.” It is this skill, he says, that has made him adept at customer service throughout his more than two decades in foodservice. His work managing three Tiffany & Co. dining centers, (one in New York City and two in New Jersey) earned him the honor of being named Lackmann Culinary Services’ Manager of the Year in November 2009.
“John has done some amazing things within our cafeteria operation, bringing it to the next level over this past year with promotional and theme days,” says Ron Pedersen, district manager for Lackmann Culinary Services. “Our guests are excited when visiting our café operations because they know they will always be served by a friendly team member. During the past year our café operations were showing a loss, but with menu improvements, staff training and guest relations the account has seen major improvements in the year-to-date financials and it’s all because of John’s vast knowledge of the foodservice industry.”
Renovation revolution: Dettori says of all his accomplishments with Tiffany’s, one he is most proud of is the gut renovation he managed when he took over the account five years ago.
“When I first came to Tiffany’s, I went into the New York City location and we gutted it,” Dettori says. “ We went from concrete floors and steel beams and built it from the floor up. I’ve opened a lot of cafeterias, but that one was literally from the ground up. I never had the experience of helping decide ‘are we going to tile this, are we going to paint that?’ When I got there, I worked with the area coordinator and we came up with the layout of the floor. Originally they wanted an open grill, but they wanted only a certain number of staff so I told them an open grill wouldn’t be possible. So we didn’t go with an open grill. I like to give service, but I like to give service more when customers will actually receive it. Since the renovation, that location went from selling about $500 a day to about $1,000 per day, which has since declined to about $800 per day because of recent layoffs.”
The renovation in the city also prompted calls for environmentally friendly disposables, to which the company responded by rolling out a compostable disposables program that launched last month.
“The Going Green program really started five years ago when we opened the Manhattan cafeteria and people were saying, if you’re opening this beautiful facility, we should make some ‘green’ changes,” Dettori says. “They ended up pushing all the right buttons and finally Tiffany’s came in and made a tremendous investment in these disposables. The regular plastic forks are about $20 per case. The corn resin forks are like $45 per case, and we go through a lot of them because we use almost 100% disposables in the city. In New Jersey, I’m pushing for half disposables and half china, but for whatever reason people like the disposable containers. We had unbelievable feedback leading up to the program’s first day. There were people running up to me saying they were so happy we finally made the switch.”
Watching costs: Dettori says he always knew he wanted to be work with food.
“My grandmother was a lunch lady and she was a fantastic cook,” Dettori says. “All my brothers and sisters can cook. That’s how we grew up. From that I always knew this was what I wanted to do.”
After working in restaurants during his teenage years, he graduated from Johnson & Wales with a culinary management degree. After graduation, Dettori worked in several restaurants on Long Island before taking a job with Lackmann Culinary Services.