Shawn Tatarowicz, our new director of operations has an unmistakable passion for customer service. It’s a passion that has directed his entire career– and one that truly distinguishes him in the industry. We’re excited to have Shawn, and to introduce you to him. Shawn generously took some time out from his busy schedule to speak with us.
Welcome Shawn! So explain please-what exactly does your new job entail?
As director of operations I work closely with Doug to implement his vision and maintain his standards. I oversee everything related to running the front of the house-from the reservation book to the bar, to the care and comfort of the restaurant’s facilities, to the staffing and training of our servers, bar tenders, and bussers. I work with the chefs to assure that our food is served correctly. I oversee the menu design and pricing It’s my job to make sure the restaurant runs efficiently and most importantly that our guests have an outstanding experience every time they join us. I’ll also be overseeing our beer, wine and spirits programs-which I’m particularly excited about.
Tell us about your background-how did you become involved in the food world?
I’ve been working at restaurants since I was 16 years old. I started as a server at Chi-Chi’s (I became expert at singing happy birthday). Through college I worked as a food broker and bar-tender. I had other jobs but I always gravitated back to restaurant work; though at the time I never saw it as a career path. When I graduated I got a job at The Harp, a wonderful west side, Irish pub. I worked as part of the team that opened the restaurant. At that point I realized that I loved the excitement of unique small independent restaurants. When The Harp’s manager left, I got his job. I later moved on to run the beverage program at Pickwick and Frolic and later became general manager at Three Birds Restaurant in Lakewood. Most recently I was at Hyde Park. But it was at Three Birds, that everything came together for me. I was lucky enough to meet Master Sommelier Eddie Osterland. Eddie sparked my interest in wine and encouraged me to begin my own training toward becoming a master sommelier. I fell in love with restaurant work. I love educating people about food and wine. It’s very special to be a part of someone’s life for that 2 hours or so that they are in your restaurant. It’s a great feeling to do everything possible to make their dining experience outstanding.
You mentioned you’re working toward your master sommelier certification…that’s impressive.
I’ve earned three different wine certifications thus far: a “CSW,” or a “Certified Specialist of Wine,” an “Advanced Level Wine and Spirits Certificate,” and a “Certified Sommelier” designation. I’ve also earned a “Certified Cicerone,” designation which is an advanced degree in beer education and service.
You have a tremendous amount of education in the beverage side of the business. Why is this important?
Great wines and beers add so much to the dining experience. For many people it’s helpful to have advice from a server who really knows flavors, styles, labels and regions. People also want to buy from a place that understands proper storage and serving practices. Anyone can call themselves an expert but the words “sommelier” and “cicerone” designate those with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving fine wines and beers. The knowledge I’ve gained through these programs helps me to create a great dining experience for our guests.
What brought you to fire?
There a so many reasons why I’m so excited to be here at fire! Certainly I became interested in fire because I love the passion and creativity of Doug’s work–fire has long been one of my favorite restaurants! I also love the opportunity I have here to be involved with the entire guest experience. Doug has a fantastic following of people who really appreciate his food and are interested in trying new things.
Tell us a little about your life outside of fire–what do you do for fun?
I’m married. I have three great kids and a great wife who understands why I love this crazy business! When I’m not working, my wife and I like to cook for family and friends, dine out, and taste wines from my cellar.
What are your favorite wines?
I really enjoy the Rieslings, you can pair them with so many things. Also lately I’m really into the Greek and Spainish wines too! My wife is a big fan of the wines of Bordeaux.
Now tell me something about you that most people don’t know-you know just between you, me, and the blog.
Alright, don’t tell anyone, but I used to be part of a country line-dance team…..every Wednesday night at the Boot Scoot Saloon.
Thanks Shawn –that will just be our little secret!
Post and photo by Amy VIny