Behind the Bar
A Conversation on Management with Ace Hotel's Katie Darling
Katie Darling, Food and Beverage Director, Ace Hotel New Orleans.
I've been working in the food and beverage industry for 16 years. My first job was back home in Folsom, CA, working as a busser at Black Angus Steakhouse when I was in high school.
My leadership training began early when I was a Girl Scout!
My father is a small business owner. My brothers and I grew up helping him and performed some managerial duties for his company. With that business owner mentality in the household, we kind of all thought we were the boss!
I fell in love with the food and beverage industry, and pursued that instead of continuing the family tradition. I'm really appreciative of the experiences I had working with my family, though, and they've given me the confidence to strike out and do my own thing.
The most important part of my job is the people I work with. They're everything. I do my best to look out for their well-being, support them and help energize them so they come to work ready to contribute.
One of the most important things I've learned over the years is to be transparent with my team. I share with them everything I can, and do my best to give them insights into the bigger picture of what we're all trying to do. This way everyone understands their part, and how it all contributes to our overall success.
It's deeply rewarding to watch your team evolve, push themselves to accomplish their goals and achieve what they want in life. I always want to do my best to help those I work with grow as individuals, whether it's professionally or personally.
In the food and beverage industry there are so many moving parts, and no two days are exactly the same. It can be challenging sometimes to make sure everyone's on the same page and headed in the same direction. I work closely with my team leaders on training, and to help strike that balance of getting the job done correctly, and enjoying it along the way.
I have worked with the most talented people in our industry and the list is long, but I'd start with Neal Bodenheimer of the Cure Collective, and Tal Nadari of Lucas Bols B.V. They taught me the importance of investing in people for the long-term results.
Be nice. It's that simple. When you treat people with respect and kindness, you'll usually get the same in return.
Move to New Orleans sooner rather than later! I've always loved this city, and I'm not sure why it took me so long to finally get here.
Be kind to others and to yourself. Don't be afraid ask questions. Study the numbers, and don't lose sight of the fact that no matter how much fun you're having, you're still running a business.