In today’s world of celebrity chefs and food porn, restaurant GMs are often overlooked. But here’s how a restaurant operates when it’s being poorly managed:
“In March of 2002, Bymark had only been open about 6 months and there had already been a complete change in the staff and management team. Very few of the initial staff hired remained on. The joke was that if you were called into private room 3, it meant you were being fired. Even those of us with a lot of experience were nervous on a daily basis coming into work. No one was comfortable. No one was relaxed. Everyone was scared.”
A lot’s changed since then, and much of Bymark’s transformation has to with Darlien Scott, who started as a server and is now the GM of the Financial District’s most respected spots.
What makes Darlien such a rock-star GM is that she’s never forgotten where she came from. She’s worked in chain restaurants and supper-clubs. She’s worked in Toronto, Vancouver and Whistler. And what she’s learned through it all is to lead by example and treat people fairly.
“It’s important to acknowledge a job well done, but it’s equally important to let someone know when they’re falling short. You have to be assertive but not aggressive; and you should never let anything go to your head no matter how much power you think you have.”
A Dee in the Life of Bymark
Darlien gets to work around 11 am and does a quick walk-around to see what the day has in store (reservations, orders, etc). Then the lunch rush starts, and like a good leader, she’s out on the floor with her staff, assisting where she can. “I’m a very hands-on manager,” she says. “I think that’s how I alleviate tension and avoid the kind of work environment that was present back when I started. I show my support and my people know I have their backs.”
She also makes a point to chat up the regulars when they’re there. “Entertaining, hilarious characters” she says of them. “They come here to celebrate, and they come here when times are tough, to feel better when the markets are rough.”
After lunch, Darlien uses the ‘down time’ to deal with staffing, inventory, event planning, maintenance and whatever else is going on. Then the dinner rush begins and she’s back on the floor helping out, chatting up guests and making sure everything’s running smoothly. Most of her days are 10 hours long; some are 16, but they’re all fantastic.
The GM/Chef Dynamic
“Chef Brooke is a pro at engineering the menu, but I’ll always let him know if an item is well received or not. There was a veal schnitzel on the menu a while back that I noticed was being consistently modified by guests into a veal parm. I told Brooke and the menu was changed.” This kind of fluid relationship is a big reason why the food at Bymark is always on trend and why the operation runs like a well-oiled machine.
At the same time, Darlien’s there for Brooke when he needs help. She stays close to him when he’s getting slammed, acting as the buffer between the kitchen and servers so Brooke only has to go to her with issues or problems. “The atmosphere can get pretty heated and intense at times, but we make it work. And we’ll always debrief over a beer and glass of wine when it’s done.”
The pulse of the place
For a GM, there’s no front of the house or back of the house. Darlien’s responsible for the entire house and everyone that comes in and out, whether they’re guests, staff, delivery guys, reps or anyone else.
“The best part of being a GM is the variety of roles” she says. “I love working with people, managing them, mentoring our staff. Restaurant employees are for the most part entertaining, humorous and varied.” There are several sales reps, event planners and customers that have become friends outside of the restaurant over the years.
“I also really enjoy the planning and executing of events and making guests more than happy with the end result. It’s really nice to know you’ve made someone’s event a stress free planning process.”
No matter who you are or why you’re there, the great leadership from Brooke and Darlien (and of course, Mark) mean that the entire experience at Bymark is extraordinary, and it shows. Book your table here.