Welcome to Front & Center, a series highlighting front of the house professionals in Philadelphia restaurants. Right now, Drew Lazor, the creator and longtime curator of Meal Ticket, dishes on a few local notables:
Drew Lazor likes the staff at Grace Tavern [Photo: Whiz and Firkin]
Drew Lazor recently hung up his spurs as the founder and editor of Meal Ticket at the City Paper, but that hasn't stopped him from gorging himself on a daily basis. In between writing posts for Philly.com and COOK, Lazor still finds time to visit his favorite restaurants and bars, which are populated by some of the best front of the house soldiers around.
Tory Keomanivong from Fond
I first met Tory during a meal at Lacroix where he gave our table probably the best cheese presentation I've ever seen — really knowledgeable and energetic without being pretentious or boring (like a lot of fine-dining service). I still buy some of the cheeses he introduced us to that night. It's really heartening to see him maintain these same very high standards at his own place. He's one of the best.
Leo Eisenstein and Rees Brown from Grace Tavern
Some of the best bartenders in the business. Both are warm, friendly and quick with jokes and stories, and both know their beer well. But, these guys also run a tight ship and don't put up with any foolish or inappropriate bullshit from patrons. Luckily, I've never gotten drunk enough to meet the business end of their enforcement.
Ryan Mulholland from Vernick
Ryan is a recent Boston transplant but he's fitting right in here in Philly. Very cool and down-to-earth guy but he also takes his role as GM very seriously, and it shows in his waitstaff.
Christine McMenamin from a.kitchen
Christine was a server at Mémé from the day it opened until the day it closed and she is one of the best. She's funny and natural and knows what the hell she is talking about. She just started a new gig at a.kitchen where I think she fits right in, given their personal approach to food and wine.
Olga Lin and Joe Beddia from Little Fish
I can only imagine how challenging it is to run the floor at a really crowded really teeny BYOB like Little Fish. I'll bet it requires plenty of patience and collaboration on top of the requisite food knowledge and rapport with guests. Olga and Joe are great at what they do and keep the pace smooth while also being very honest and personable.
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