A: You know, it’s funny. It was one of those ... picture-perfect coast days. It was probably 85 degrees. It was May. And we (Ryan Snyder and his wife, Stephanie Snyder, then Stephanie Martin) are driving up the coast, and the (farther) north we got, the more beautiful it became. And we came around Silver Point, and Stephanie goes, “There’s Cannon Beach.” Haystack Rock you could see on the horizon. Beautiful sky; it’s starting to turn pink, the sun’s going down.
We’re coming into town, went straight to dinner at The Wayfarer with her parents, whom I’d never met. It was one of those moments where it’s like, “Wow, this is really beautiful — what if I could just stay here for the summer?” ... Next day, I’m playing golf with Stephanie’s dad (Steve Martin, who co-founded Martin Hospitality with his wife, Jan Martin), and he said, “Hey, we could use you.”
So they hired me at The Wayfarer, and I worked as a bartender, and it was, like, two weeks after that we took on the (Local Grill & Scoop) as a management company. And Steve said, “Hey, you want to go in there and help us through the summer?” And I said, “Sure!” So I went in there as kind of the first rep for Martin Hospitality and tried to get us strapped together to get us through the season. That first season (summer of 1995), that was pretty intense.
A: I grew up in Palm Desert, Calif. — so the Palm Springs area. And as you maybe would think ... you’re either going to the country club or you’re working at it. And I was always working at it.
I was very, very fortunate. My closest friend growing up, his dad was a very prominent general manager for a country club down in Palm Springs, one of the more popular, high-end clubs. And he introduced me to a level of hospitality that most kids my age were never really accustomed to unless you were on the other side of it and got to see service at a really high level. And I was able to try and emulate that throughout my whole career...
Where I grew up, as you’re going through your first jobs, you’re doing something in service, generally speaking. If you’re working, you’re generally serving others. And I actually think serving others is probably one of the best character builders for anybody. I think that everybody should have to go through that because there’s times where it humbles you, you know? And the way people can be in our industry, it can be tough.
I mean, I was just talking to a manager who was sharing with me some of the challenges this summer. We have such an affinity for our guests ... They are right. They are always right. And it’s about 1 percent of the time where maybe they’re not (right), and it’s really hard for us to navigate those times.
A: Well, first off, there’s never an appropriate time to be disrespectful to anybody. And people sometimes look at service industry folks in a way that they openly can disrespect ... And I’ve had instances in my career where I’ve watched that and .. I’ve actually had to ask people to refrain from talking to my employees a certain way.
A: (Thoughtful pause.) You’ll notice by just going around to any restaurant — I’ll use restaurants as an example — there’s good and there’s bad service everywhere you look, whether it’s restaurants or retail or whatever. What it comes down to is much less about what we do and much (more) about somebody’s commitment and passion to whatever they do.
I have been blessed with this amazing team. If you go back, we have such longevity with our staff, all of our facilities. The Stephanie Inn has tremendous longevity. Surfsand. Wayfarer Restaurant. We have amazing longevity, and, (with) a lot of those folks, it starts with their commitment to taking care of others. It’s just a passion play. And when people are passionate about it, it doesn’t matter what they’re doing. Serving tables, serving a cocktail, taking care of somebody, concierge, our spa therapist — if they’re passionate about it, it comes through in their interactions.