By Toby Bloomberg
Nick Spatola, General Manager
Ecco Midtown, Atlanta
With experience in both back- and front-of-house, Nick Spatola brings a unique perspective to his position as General Manager at Ecco Midtown. Spatola attended the Culinary Institute of America, where he received training as a chef. However, in high school and after graduating CIA he worked FOH service.
Although he enjoyed the kitchen, front-of-house service also interested him. “I really liked contributing to the operating side of the business as a whole. I fell more in love with that.” Spatola says. “It felt more comfortable, more natural for me to be working front of the house.”
In his tenure at the Fifth Restaurant Group, Spatola has had the opportunity to work at nine of the Group’s 10 dining concepts. That’s given him an appreciation of what works and what doesn’t at multiple restaurants and contributed to his success at Ecco Midtown. “They may be only miles apart,” he says,” but there are still some drastic differences of what works here in Midtown versus in Buckhead or near the Perimeter.”
Spatola currently manages a staff of approximately 40 people. Not surprisingly, he feels it’s important for service to understand all aspects of the restaurant, including back-of-house, in order to become comfortable with the entire process.
“They get a good sense,” he says, “of how the kitchen paces and how it operates.” Seeing how the pieces of the puzzle integrate and form the bigger picture is the first step to building a connection between the customer and the restaurant.
He strongly believes the two most critical aspects of his job center on culture and morale.
“We’re getting to the point in the industry where a lot of restaurants serve really great food and cocktails,” Spatola says. “But hospitality, as a whole, is taking care of our team and our team taking care of our guests – that’s ultimately what’s going to cause us to succeed.”
Hospitality involves creative solutions to ensure the guest feels special and enjoys a memorable experience. “It goes back to the individual,” Nick says. “Tailoring the experience is the art side of hospitality.”
Spatola looks at the restaurant experience from both the side of the server and the side of the guest. “There’s nothing better than to think we had an awesome service,” Spatola says, “then see multiple reviews saying the guest had a great time.”
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