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.

John Dettori, FSD of the Month, Tiffany and Co., beverage station

“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.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
sriracha bottles

Generally, I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. They tend to be grandiose and unrealistic—and why not just resolve to start doing/not doing that thing you’re not doing/doing right away instead of going hog wild until Jan. 1? (New Year’s Day also is my birthday, and if you can’t eat at your favorite Thai restaurant and sip bubbly then, well, when can you?)

I do, however, enjoy the raucous singing of “Auld Lang Syne” to ring in the new year, though I’ve never been quite sure whether you’re supposed to be remembering the year fondly or happily putting it out of mind. While I...

Managing Your Business
briggo coffee haus kiosk

Though diners’ appetites for coffee are seemingly bottomless, adding a full-service coffee shop to every corner of a facility probably isn’t in the playbook. Here’s a look at how two operators added coffee service with relatively small footprints—with one decidedly futuristic (robot barista, anyone?), and the other low-tech but nimble.

Specialty coffee vending at Dell

Dell has a full-service Starbucks on its Red Rock, Texas, campus, but the location isn’t always convenient for a quick coffee pickup. “Certain times, you go into the bistro, like 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., there’s quite a long...

Ideas and Innovation
baked bread

Instead of sourcing value-added product to reduce labor, the food and nutrition team at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison outsources its baked goods to a local shop that hires only formerly incarcerated workers. The bakery was able to hire two new former inmates in order to keep up with the volume needs of the hospital. “We want to be really entrenched in the community, not just have a building that sits in the center of Madison,” says Amy Mihm, clinical nutrition specialist for the hospital.

Managing Your Business
food symbols allergens

Bellevue School District in King County, Wash., has reduced the instances of life-threatening allergic reactions by 94% since 2013. Wendy Weyer, business manager for nutrition services, says that success stems from direct communication with the district’s 20,000 students.

Q: What was the first thing you did to start reducing allergic reactions?

A: More than five years ago, we changed our menu signage to provide information to students on what the common allergens were on all the foods that were served at every station. We use symbols such as an egg or a wheat stalk for younger...

FSD Resources