Industry Insiders: Justin Sievers, Service Manager of The Dutch
First he dined there, now he works there. Once a regular patron at restaurant hotspot The Dutch, Sievers now manages the front of house staff, scheduling, and The Dutch’s famed and boisterous dining scene. “If the staff is having a good time, so will the guests,” Sievers says. They sure are. Lauded for chef Andrew Carmellini’s American cuisine with a Southern tinge, The Dutch is one of New York’s most talked-about restaurants.
Siever’s menu favorites include the little oyster sandwiches, rabbit pot pie, and any of the dessert pies. As someone who’s worked in restaurants – from high-end French to casual Mexican – since the age of 16, he knows good food and good service. Here, Sievers shares how he became a part of the New York culinary scene, what his managing style is like, and the number one quality you need to succeed.
How did you first become involved with The Dutch?
I began working for Andrew Carmellini and his partners Josh Pickard and Luke Ostrom in May of 2009 when Locanda Verde opened. My focus there was beverage under Josh Nadel, the beverage director, and now at The Dutch I’m a service manager.
How did you get your start in the culinary world?
I’ve been working in restaurants in Atlanta, GA since I turned 16. I studied hospitality management at Georgia State University and worked in Atlanta and Vail, CO bartending and serving. When I came to New York City, I landed the job at Locanda Verde.
As the manager of The Dutch’s front of house, what’s your style like?
I try to present myself as an even-keeled, approachable figure that staff can rely on. Getting to know each person working with you is an important part of making them feel comfortable and part of the team. In the end, it’s all about making sure that the guests are having an amazing time, so creating an environment in which your staff is having an amazing time is key.
When you’re not managing the house, what do you do to relax?
I’m really into snowboarding and rock climbing when the weather allows. I try to play music as often as possible. I come from a family of musicians so I grew up playing drums with my dad and still like to jam with friends when possible. I don’t have anything that is super organized right now though. Other than that, I’m still very much a beverage guy, so learning about and drinking wines and spirits is always a fun way to be productive.
Since you’ve been at The Dutch, what’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned?
Flexibility is key. Not only being flexible in the position you can fill but also within that position. Once you can become dynamic enough to successfully complete all the different aspects of the job, you are infinitely more valuable. One of the most important aspects is managing people, which takes an immense amount of flexibility.