Finding Family at Work, From a Restaurant Manager and Working Parent
Name: David N.
Position: Restaurant Manager
Hotel: New Orleans Marriott
Dream destination: I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii. The beaches, the surfing, the culture, and food are all so alluring.
Drink or treat of choice: As a career bartender and cocktail enthusiast, it’s tough to pick just one favorite. There are so many wonderful flavor combinations out there and the cocktail scene seems to have no limits. That being said, call me Old Fashioned….nothing really beats the classics when it comes to good drinks.
Being in charge of bar and restaurant operations in a city like New Orleans is not for the faint of heart. The hometown of Mardi Gras, the Jazz Festival, and more weddings, bachelorette parties, and celebrations than one city can handle is undoubtedly one of the country’s top food and drinks meccas, and here is where David decided to start his career in hospitality.
“I was born in New Orleans but moved around as a kid. My father was stationed here during Vietnam at Algiers Point Navy Base, and I was a Navy brat.” David says. “As an adult, I lived in a few other places but never for very long. Something always brought me back to New Orleans. I joked for many years that it was the food that made me keep coming home, but as I’m 45 now, I have realized it was the people all along—and the poboys.”
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Fifteen years ago, David was bartending at a local bar across the street from the New Orleans Marriott, which happened to be where Marriott associates used to gather after work, and he got recruited to work as a bartender in their lobby bar. He left Marriott after two years at the job, only to return in 2021.
“I stopped by the hotel after a [job] interview to say hello. I saw my Food and Beverage Director, Todd Kohls, serving coffee to a guest in the lobby. He asked, “What are you doing?’ to which I replied “Nothing good.” I was back behind the [hotel] bar in just a few days!” David remembers. After that, it wasn’t long before the need for a manager became apparent. A few months after he was hired, David had taken over as the restaurant manager at the very same bar and lounge where his Marriott career had first begun over a decade earlier.
David and his team now operate a staff of nearly 60 associates serving in five different food and beverage outlets. “We have rebuilt this hotel from one of the most devastating events in our history [the COVID Pandemic], and I couldn’t be prouder to be on this team.”
But besides the fun and fast-paced nature of his hotel, in a time when anything can change unexpectedly, more than anything David values the security of his job and the family-like bonds he’s built with his team more than anything. Last year, his kid’s custody terms changed and he got scared, “Time with my children is of utmost importance,” he says. “I was prepared to resign or take a demotion because there was no way my work schedule could work around my days with the kids. I called my director and he could hear the fear in my voice. He told me plainly and simply without hesitation, “Take off the days you need to take off, family comes first.” Imagine my relief! I’ve never felt so supported by an employer. Things like that make it feel more like a family than a job.”
And just like with a family, even when things don’t go as expected, David is proud of how his team handles the hectic pace and challenges of their everyday routines. It’s a common sentiment of all Marriott associates, regardless of their location, job or hotel, due to the greater overarching culture.
“It really is like family, a diverse, international, less than perfect family that cares about each other inside and outside the hotel,” he says. “We have our ups and downs, and we go through them together.”
Learn more about David’s journey in food and beverage as well as leadership, in his own words, below.
How would you describe your experience as a Marriott associate?
It’s no surprise Marriott is consistently ranked as one of the top places to work each year. If you’re looking for an employer that has a vested interest in your well-being, this is the place.
How would you describe Marriott’s culture?
It’s a culture of caring. We genuinely care about one another here. When we have issues outside of work, family comes first. The team will pull together and make sure we have whatever we need to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. When we have issues within the workplace, we have a chance to help one another come to the best solutions. We care for each other, we care for our guests, and Marriott cares for us.
What was your interview process like, and any tips for candidates who are looking for a role like yours?
The Marriott interview process can be a little daunting in my opinion. But it’s easy to see why it’s so thorough — our positions are important. As leaders, we set the tone for our departments and set the example by how we carry ourselves and interact with guests. Sounds a bit cheesy, but be yourself in your interviews. Your authentic qualities are what make you unique, and your uniqueness is what makes you special.
What of Marriott’s core values resonates most with you?
Put People First. Marriott has always taken care of us; the list of benefits and perks is a mile long. I’ve always felt empowered to care for our guests because I know the hotel has my back every step of the way. That makes it more than a philosophy for me — we live it every day at my property.
When have you felt part of a community at Marriott?
My property is pretty big, one of the largest hotels in New Orleans. Whenever a manager moves on or moves up, we have a little get-together in their honor, a bon voyage party if you will. Now, as leaders at a large property, we don’t always interact with each other regularly, but when we all get together in one room to send off a colleague, the sense of camaraderie shines through.
Favorite part of the job?
The culture of community. As we move around the hotel everyone says hello to each other. That tiny gesture is pervasive in our hotel. We bump fists, if our hands are full, we bump elbows, we shake hands, we pat each other on the back, we share a little joke or a laugh, we check in on each other and we do it every day all day. We are truly one solid team here and that feels so good.
What does a good day at work look like for you?
Efficiency, I love it, I strive for it. The best days for me are the days when I knock it out of the park and scratch off everything on my to-do list. Food and Beverage can be like a living breathing animal, constantly moving and challenges can arise minute to minute. When we can pivot and handle the challenges and opportunities of the day, that’s a win.
How have you used the Marriott Explore Rate?
I love a staycation! I use my discount frequently for special nights in town, the Friends and Family rate when I have visitors (people love to visit New Orleans!), and when I have the chance to get away. From Miami Beach to New York City to beach vacations in Destin, Florida with my kids, wherever we choose to go, there’s always a Marriott nearby.
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