John Dettori: Super Service

“I didn’t even know this part of the business existed,” Dettori says. “I had a roommate from college who was an area coordinator for Lackmann, and he said, I have a job for you if you want it. I worked at the Bank of Tokyo, which was very high end. I worked at the New York Stock Exchange, where I got to serve Martha Stewart after she rang the bell. After that I went to the Rockefeller Foundation, where I got to serve President Carter, Bob Vila and Yo Yo Ma. Then five years ago, I came to Tiffany’s, and they’ve wanted me to stay ever since.”

Dettori says it was his background as a chef that allowed him to help decrease Tiffany’s subsidy by $40,000 last year. Through changes in staffing and reconfiguring the menu mix, Dettori says he was able to help reduce the subsidy.

“Decreasing the subsidy was a lot about staffing changes and looking at the menu mix and reeling that in a little bit,” Dettori says. “When you cut back on staffing and on the menu mix you don’t want people to notice. Fortunately, I have a real culinary background so I’m able to switch things out without anyone really noticing. My chefs are able to do the same. Instead of using sirloin, we’re using hanger steak—things like that.”

Pedersen was also impressed with how Dettori decreased the subsidy.

“Because of the downsizing of the population at Tiffany & Co., we have seen an effect on our dining services, causing a reduction in customer counts,” Pedersen says. “Through redesigning our menus, combo deals being offered, cross-training our team members and watching overall costs, John greatly helped in the reduction in subsidy.”

Serving satisfies: Dettori says customer service comes naturally to him because of his many jobs in the service industry. He looks at mentoring as just another way he can provide service to a different customer: his staff.

“I just show the less experienced staff proper cooking techniques such as proper knife skills,” Dettori says. “It’s nothing formal. I hire people that I know have ability and then I’ll push them as far as I can. Everyone here was trained before I got here, but I have taught chefs how to do some manager’s skills as well, which is not always so easy with someone from the kitchen. I really enjoy that. I think these days people are afraid to give colleagues skills for fear of them taking their jobs. If I teach my staff then they will have the knowledge and the capability to move up.”

John Dettori, FSD of the Month, Tiffany and Co., servery

This love of mentoring plays into Dettori’s management philosophy.

“My management philosophy is to let people do their jobs,” Dettori says. “I hire them to do a job and I let them do it. I can guide them and show them what I think is most important, which is customer service and really good food, but if they’re not on board with that, they aren’t going to be as successful. I’m very fortunate that in all three locations I’m working with people who have been with the company for a long time; they have that Lackmann philosophy of outstanding customer service.”

Another successful aspect of Dettori’s focus on customer service is his promotions. Daily promotions such as noodle bowls, and themed days such as a Feast of San Gennaro have been very popular.

“Our biggest promotion is our monthly raffle,” Dettori says. “If a customer spends $5, they get a ticket. They can get as many tickets as possible and at the end of the month we have a drawing and they can win anything from a bicycle to an iPod. It’s interesting because it’s hard to do that type of stuff in the city because those customers are looking for a more relaxing atmosphere. So we try to cater our promotions to each location.”
Pedersen says Dettori’s customer service-oriented attitude is what really makes him a success.

“Whenever there are issues, problems or concerns John is always the first to volunteer to assist and resolve the problems quickly,” Pedersen says. “He works extremely hard to make sure his clients receive the special attention that they deserve. On a daily basis John is always working one on one with his front- and back-of-the-house team members, training them and bringing them up to the next level in which they can grow within our company. Our Tiffany & Co. clients are very excited about having John operate their dining services. The guest survey scores have gone up and the atmosphere of the dining experience has been nothing but extraordinary.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...

FSD Resources