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

Food delivery company Good Uncle is expanding to 15 college campuses this fall, The Daily Orange reports.

The company plans to grow along the East Coast and is looking at opening at schools such as George Washington University, Pennsylvania State University, Villanova University and American University. Good Uncle hopes to open at 50 to 100 campuses by 2019.

Starting as a delivery-only kitchen in 2016, Good Uncle partners with local restaurants to recreate their popular dishes and then deliver them to college students. The company offers free delivery, no delivery minimum...

Ideas and Innovation
wahoo tacos

School lunch is heating up. As expectations rise in the noncommercial sector, the old-fashioned cafeteria has become a hot topic. Political pressure on schools has seesawed over the past eight years, and nutritional regulations on items like sodium and whole grains have been overhauled (and back again). Meanwhile, students, parents, teachers, administrators and policymakers are demanding more healthfulness and better taste from school meals, often for the same cost.

Yet the industry’s best are dedicated to getting better, even while looking to the future with caution. “There’s not...

Sponsored Content
WinCup product

From WinCup ® .

The shape of hospitality is always changing—and challenging. Take the boom in off-premise and takeout, for example, that is expanding foodservice beyond the four walls of the dining room. That trend is driving both commercial and noncommercial operators to rethink their packaging needs—from a practical operational standpoint as well as when it comes to addressing consumers’ needs and desires.

Take it away

The tide of takeout is rising: 49% of 18- to 34-year olds say they are ordering food to-go more often now than they were three years ago, with 36% saying...

Industry News & Opinion

The dining team at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., is concerned about the school’s upcoming switch to a new food vendor this fall, the Daily Northwestern reports.

While Northwestern says that its new vendor, Compass, will invite staff to join the company and dining employees will receive the same pay, benefits and seniority they have in their current arrangement, workers are still worried about the change.

Staff say that the university did not keep them informed while searching for a new vendor and that they learned about new developments through students and...

FSD Resources