Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Sissy’s, new Lisa Garza restaurant, screens applicants by looks
Next Food Network Star finalist won't interview unless you send in a photo.
DALLAS Former Next Food Network Star contestant and new restaurateur Lisa Garza, who's about to open Sissy's Southern Kitchen & Bar on Henderson Avenue, is in hiring mode, and is requiring an unprecedented extra from applicants: their photo.
"Do you like pleasing people?" the job posting begins. "Do you LOVE hosting a rockin' dinner party? Do you have a serious passion for service, food, cocktails, and wine? We might be the right fit for you!"
The ad goes on to describe Sissy's as an "exciting new casual-fine dining Southern style restaurant and bar opening in the heart of the Henderson dining area," then offers a list of positions, including the following:
"Servers (hip with a retro edge, attach a photo please)"
For actors or models, submitting an 8x10 glossy is standard procedure. But it's nothing you'd expect to submit when applying for a waiter job. The tasks performed by servers require skills such as short-term memory, physical agility, multi-tasking, and good personality -- all of which can be executed equally as well by a person with average looks or undocumented hipster cred.
This is not to say that appearance does not matter. If someone deals with the public, you expect that person to be at least presentable, and a restaurant that wants to succeed should hire accordingly.
The staff at Stephan Pyles in downtown Dallas is no slouch when it comes to appearance, but manager George Majdalani says that photos are not part of their screening process.
"We don't do that -- I've never heard of that," he said. "Now, we don't do any interviews via phone. We meet them in person. And you do have to be presentable. If you show up unshaven, that's an immediate 'no' to me. This is probably going to be the best look I'm going to get -- so if you show up unshaven, forget it. You hope to see people who are put together, their shoes are clean, but as an employer, I would never ask for that."
But not even Hooters -- where attractive servers are a trademark -- requires photos from applicants, said Tom Hill, manager at the branch in Frisco.
"That is not part of the application process," he said. "We do take a photo, once you are hired, of everyone both in the front of the house and the back of the house -- but that's for security. The only job I've ever known of where you had to have a photo was for an acting job – if you’re going for a TV show and they’re looking for you to have a look."
A TV show like Next Food Network Star? Garza can hire any way she pleases. But a restaurant that screens servers based on how they look would seem to convey superficiality, rather than a great place to eat.
With Sissy's set to open this month, her spokesperson said she was too busy to respond personally, but said that the "retro" in the job listing referred to a look that Garza was calling "rockabilly":
"It's inspired by [designer] Billy Reid—Sissy's will have a brand standard/look, but uniforms will consist of mismatched vintage pieces. Guys will mix plaid and checkered shirts, while girls will wear a variation of 50s-style shirt dresses with Lisa's custom aprons," said Garza's spokesperson.
Quite a lot of attention on the costume there.
Wondering what might fly and what might not, we emailed two phony resumes to Sissysonhenderson@gmail.com, accompanied by two corresponding photos. We sent the first resume on Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. from an imaginary applicant named "Pari Kretter," whose photo was adorable but whose experience we limited to La Madeleine in Plano and a coffeehouse and bakery in Portland:
Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 1:07 PM
Dear Sissy's on Henderson,
Hello, my name is Pari Kretter, and I am interested in applying for a server position at the new restaurant on Henderson.
I'm 25 years old, and a recent transplant from Portland, Oregon. My husband is a university professor who was hired to teach at the University of Dallas, and we moved to the Dallas area last fall.
I'm working on completing my college degree part-time and would like to wait tables. I don't have an extensive resume to attach, so I'll just list my history here.
My father was in the military, so we lived in Germany while I was in high school. I lived in Portland for five years where I worked at a number of coffee shops including Stumptown (Portland's best-known coffee roaster) as well as artisan bakery Grand Central Bakery, where I waited tables at their cafe.
Since moving to Texas, I worked at La Madeleine in Plano for four months. We recently moved closer to Dallas, and I would like to work at an independently owned restaurant.
I have attached my photo as requested. I can provide references upon request.
Three hours later, Pari got a response from Sissy's manager, offering her an interview the next day.
Thursday 4:19 p.m.
Would it be possible for you to come to our restaurant site tomorrow afternoon at 2pm? If not, I do have other times available in the afternoon, as well as on Saturday. It's best to call me at [phone number here] as I do not have this email account set to go straight to my phone. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Catherine Roberts, Manager
(Oops, sorry Manager, but "Pari" is going to be a no-show.)
The next afternoon, we sent Sissys@ another fictional resume, this one from a "Tracy S." Tracy was also an attractive woman although she was perhaps slightly older-looking, and had no precious flower in her hair. What she did have was 10+ years experience at two well-regarded restaurants in the Northeast and had performed sufficiently well at one of the restaurants that she'd received a promotion:
Sent: Friday, February 10, 2012 2:21 PM
Hello! I am writing in regards to the SERVER position advertised on Dallas Craigslist.
I have been in the F&B industry for more than a decade, having worked at a number of fine-dining restaurants in the Northeast including Max in West Hartford, Connecticut, and Raspberries of Utica where I was promoted to Assistant Manager.
I'm seeking a server position in central Dallas (not a suburb), and would prefer to work at a restaurant where the food and atmosphere are excellent.
I currently work at a well known restaurant in Dallas whose identity I would prefer not to disclose until the interview. I would need to give them two weeks' notice.
I'm not sure why a photo is being requested, but I've attached one from a family reunion I attended last year.
No reply on Friday, no reply on Saturday. The days ticked by. On Sunday, "Tracy" sent a follow-up email asking if her resume had been received. Still no response. As of Tuesday morning, poor overqualified Tracy S. still hasn't heard back.
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