Johnathon Paszkiet – Chicago Hospitality Professional of the Month (June 2016)June 15th, 2016 | hereschicago
Here’s our interview with Johnathon Paszkiet, Senior Sales Manager of Levy Restaurants & this month’s Chicago Hospitality Professional of the Month (June 2016).
First and foremost, can you tell us your current position, company and describe what you do?
I am the Senior Sales Manager for Bar Toma Restaurant, Chef Tony Mantuano’s Neighborhood Pizzeria and Bar located at 110 East Pearson.
What aspects of hospitality do you incorporate in your business today?
I continue to work by these words: “The answer is yes, what is the question” and “we do not have customers, we have guests.” With that said, always remaining flexible, having the knowledge to put the guest first, and of course always going above and beyond to not only meet, but to exceed guest’s expectations.
Where did your hospitality career begin and when was that “aha” moment when you knew you were supposed to be in hospitality as a career?
My mother told me when I was a child that I loved to watch Julia Child and other cooking shows, so I guess it was always in my blood. Having started in the restaurant business very young, first as a host, then server, I got very much caught up with the culture and history of food, which eventually led me to culinary school. I have always stayed in the restaurant field and sort of stumbled into sales, which I love, and having been doing just about 10 years or so now.
How many years have you been in the hospitality business? Almost 25 years now, starting as a host and server, to now doing event sales for the past 10 or so.
What would your friends say about you if they were nominating you?
I am always thinking outside the box, looking for new and exciting things to do within the four walls of the restaurant. Whether that is new targeted or themed menus, or fun and exciting activities for guests to do within the restaurant, I am constantly looking for ways to improve upon myself and my venue.
What qualities to you feel a person needs to excel in as hospitality professional?
The ability to listen, have a guest first mentality, and quick turnaround.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
So many to name, my mother and family of course, and there have been so many managers and chef’s that I have worked with throughout the years that continue to influence and inspire me.
What kinds of things really make you laugh?
A dry quick wit with just a hint of sarcasm
What’s your favorite place in the entire world?
Who is your best friend? What do you like about him/her?
I am lucky to have a great group of people in my life that love and accept me for the snarky sarcastic guy I am
What is your favorite movie of all time?
Gone with the Wind
What’s your biggest goal in life right now?
To travel abroad more
What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday?
Currently a patio, an adult beverage, and quality time with my friends.
Do you have any pet peeves?
Being late, being aloof, and being lazy
What was your family like growing up?
I was raised by a single mother, how she I did it, I do not know, but I love and respect her for doing it.
What were you like as a kid?
Precocious, difficult, and a little shy, this is hard for most people to believe.
What should I know about you that I’d never think to ask about?
I like raisins in things like carrot cake and cookies, but hate them by themselves.
Did you—or do you—have a nickname? What’s the story behind it?
Not unless it’s said behind my back
Have you received any praise or accolades recently?
I was recently named Here’s Chicago Hospitality Professional of the month!
What type of events you plan?
We host everything from corporate receptions, the baby and bridal showers, rehearsal dinners to all of our signature activities for a variety of groups.
What type of music do you love? I admit proudly I am a pop music junkie
What don’t people know about you? I was an actor in musical theatre from 10 years old to about 25 or so.
What do you love about planning events in Chicago?
Chicago has become such a great destination city that it is a thrill to meet so many people from across the country as well as the world.
What is your favorite restaurant or bar (Personally)? Aside from Bar Toma, my staples include but are certainly not limited to, Spiaggia, Purple Pig, Au Cheval, River Roast, Maude’s
When not working, what do you love to do? Cooking, Movies, Theatre, Restaurants, and I still love exploring my city and trying to find a great patio or rooftop!
Besides your professional talent, do you have any personal talents? (Play guitar, etc.) I was a professional actor and singer from about 10 years old until into my mid to late 20’s. When I younger I was also a black belt in karate and a licensed life guard.
Have you ever sung karaoke? If so, what song? Yes and way too many in my catalogue to name
Future trends in event planning?
I think people are opting for a more casual feel. Rehearsal dinners becoming more laid back with guests opting for more of a reception style event with passed appetizers and stations vs. a formal sit down.
Guests are also always looking for fun activities, team building, or something hands on, all of which we have implemented wit hour pizza Class, Scavenger Hunt, and Wine Demos.
What does it take to be a successful even planner?
The ability to think outside the box, be creative, and most importantly, listen to your guests to understand their vision.
What is your favorite color? It varies on season, but mostly red
What are you passionate about?
My family, my friends, and my job.
What do you recommend for others who want to get into the hospitality profession?
I recommend networking and getting to know a wide variety of event planners, ask a lot of questions, and be prepared to work hard. I think a lot of people have an impression that planning events is just all fun and games. And while it is fun, people also need to know that there is also a lot of hard work involved and a lot of details that need to be remembered.
Are you a Cubs or Sox fan?
Are the tickets free??
What’s your go-to meal when you’re home alone?
That is a tough one as I do love to cook so it varies, but I love making all different kinds of risotto and pastas.
What’s your favorite thing about your hometown? Everything, from the architecture to the history, to really seeing the culinary scene grow and expand over the last few decades has really been amazing to see.
Which book(s) have you read multiple times? Gone with the Wind, Cather and the Rye, and How Long Has This Been Going On
What’s on your bucket list? Another trip to Paris, and much more travel
What’s the most embarrassing moment you’ve had? No one gets that information until after a few cocktails
What was your First concert? First one I really remember was Peter Gabriel
If you had to go back to school or learn a new skill, what would you want to learn? I would still love to learn another language, French or Italian.
What are your thoughts about Hereschicago.com?
It is a wonderful reference and guide for anyone coming to Chicago and the guest service is top notch! Jim is also very hands on with every aspect and has great relationships with all of his venues and partners and that really shows