Collect The Dots To Connect The Dots - Jessica Gidari - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 136

Dan Ryan: Today's guest is someone who crafts holistic design experiences that reference a brand's DNA. She has a passion for creating restaurants that redefine the dining experience. She has the innate ability to take a concept and turn it into reality. She's the Senior Director of Design and Concept Development at Danny Meyer's Union Square Events and leading consulting at their newly minted Hospitality Lab.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jessica Ghidari. Welcome, Jessica.

Jessica: Hi, thanks.

Dan Ryan: I'm so excited to have you on for many different reasons. The first of which is I've said this on many of my shows, but Danny Meyer is just such a hero of mine. I've had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times and his whole idea, all the ideas and his life story and his memoir setting the table. I just think about it so often and I know I'm going to quote some things as we're, as we're talking. Um, but I'm just super excited to have you on and hear about how you can take all of the magic. That Danny's created at all of his restaurants and now you're consulting and showing other people how to do it.

Not just in restaurants also. It's, but it's like, it's all things hospitality. Cause like, I feel like as you know, hospitality touches everything. And I think we can all benefit from nurturing that hospitality gene or hospitality quotient within us in some ways. People are born with it, but it can also be taught and improved.

And it's just really freaking exciting to have you on here. So thank you.

Jessica: Thank you, my goodness. And I probably will quote a lot of our USHG isms because I speak it and live it and breathe it every day, so we'll share some HQ isms

Dan Ryan: Oh, good. I love isms. And you know, it's just, it's awesome to see, like, you know, you've had a really cool path to where you are now. And, um, just from design to branding, um, and now consulting on hospitality and design. And it's just like, I don't know, it's just really cool. So you're like taking. All of it and kind of shortening other people's journeys as they learn.

Uh, before we get into it, the one question, the big question I ask everyone is what does hospitality mean to you?

Jessica: I think since I've joined USHG, I think my, definition has shifted, um, coming from the, design and branding side of things, my approach and, interaction with hospitality is, definitely changed. I now work hand in hand with my VP of ops, uh, head of culinary. Um, I get to see them interact and, work the floor and greet guests.

So. Um, I have a really kind of beautiful now, I think, understanding of hospitality and, how I define it, um, is really the, the approach of how someone is, cared for. Um, it's, Being able to listen and have someone, a guest, uh, for all instances, be, heard and listened to. It's a lot of the intangible, but, um, hospitality is when you do something for someone rather than to someone.

Um, we, we've got a couple of great examples that we all kind of use throughout the office, but personally. Um, I have a kind of a key example of that, right? So, um, I went out to dinner with a, with a girlfriend, um, and it was a wonderful restaurant. Uh, we sat down and, and the team came over, um, and presented, um, both of us a glass of champagne, right?

And said, here, welcome, enjoy the champagne. And it was a beautiful, beautiful gesture. Little did they know, or didn't want to find out, my friend doesn't drink, right? So it's a beautiful example of thinking and wanting to do something for someone or to someone rather, right? Um, but unfortunately now she was in that position of having to either.

Make note of it or justify or when the team came back and the glass of champagne was still up and no one had drank from it, right? She's now in that position of saying, it's not that I didn't like it. It's not that I don't appreciate it, but now it's a different interaction rather than the team coming to the table and saying, welcome back or welcome for the first time.

Anything we should know, right, is anything that you can't have, want to have, stay away from, you know, what, what are your hopes for this evening and then hearing, hearing from the guests, what, what it is, what they're looking for, and then being able to come back and deliver with excellence and those moments that just completely make that impactful, impactful.

memorable evening. Um, so that, that's, that's how I would define hospitality is, is hearing and being heard and, and caring for someone.

Dan Ryan: interesting because in that instance of the champagne, it's not, um, The intention was good, but it creates this, all these other Eddie's of, uh, uh, how should I act now? And, and

so just from like a functional perspective, if you were to go back in time to that moment and you were bringing it, what would you have done before so that you could do something for them?

Jessica: Well, so I think the first thing is coming to the table and saying, Hey, welcome, you know, how, how is your, what are you, why are you coming here? Right. Are you people coming to reconnect? Um, looking to celebrate? Um, are you looking to, to have anything to drink? Right. And if we start to say no, you know, and, and, or if we say, yeah, actually, I think we're, we're thinking we're looking at the menu, but we haven't decided what cocktail, right.

You're picking up those dots. You're those cues. from that person. Um, and if they make note of that, they are here to celebrate or, you know, they are thinking about a glass of wine or something, then perhaps it's an appropriate time to then say, we would love to offer you guys champagne. Would you, would you enjoy that?

Would that be something you'd like? Right.

Dan Ryan: Yeah, it's like you have to open the door to listening and hearing, and oftentimes we're all so caught up and doing the things that we need to do to just get life done


Jessica: Right.

Dan Ryan: we don't oftentimes ask. And that ask is like, it's really just opening up your heart to the other person and like, receiving what they're giving to you.

Jessica: Absolutely.

Dan Ryan: so Danny Meyer has all of these incredible restaurants from Shake Shack to Union Square Cafe to Blue Smoke to what's my favorite one on 20th Street,


Tavern, which is my favorite one. I don't know. It's like, I'm

Jessica: It is mine too.

Dan Ryan: okay, good. So sorry. Uh, I've been there a gajillion times, but all of these places have such a different feel.

When you walk into them as far as the physical environment, but there is something super amazing about the training, the culture, and it's palpable. You can feel it. And he's done it so well for himself. Um, I'm super glad that he started a consulting arm so that he can bring that magic to other, not just restaurateurs, but, uh, but other businesses.

What, what have you learned the most since you've been there? Like what, how have you changed the most since? you've started working there.

Jessica: great question because I, I. I honestly do think it's kind of a internalizing really to the earlier point, I think what hospitality really means and can be beautifully done when done in a really thoughtful way. Um, so I think it's a better understanding. Of, um, embracing, um, what hospitality can really do to transform, uh, someone's experience.

Um, so I, I, I think, you know, learning from and I, I, I fully admit learning from the best, uh, I think has been. Really, um, transformed my understanding, um, of this industry, um, done, done to excellence, whereas like on the design side, like, yeah, of course. This is beautiful

Dan Ryan: When you, I'm sure the interview process is similar to the restaurants, correct? As far as trying to find out if you have that HQ or

hospitality quotient.

Jessica: Yeah.

Dan Ryan: So like, when you're going through the process, I, I don't like, I don't know if there's a secret process to how you get interviewed there, but like, how did you know, how did they find out that you had that hospitality gene or hospitality quotient?

Jessica: talking, we, it, we, we gauged in, um, some really fantastic conversations, some dialogues. I mean, certainly, so, you know, there's the 51% and the 49, right? So the 49% was. The technical skills, right? Do you have the background? Do you have the, the expertise in the field of which you're looking to, to lead on?

Um, so that's, you know, that's an easy solve to, to look at, um, and to figure out if, if they check that box. The 51, yeah, it, it really is, again, kind of the intangible. It's, it's, do you have that kind of hospitality spirit and warmth? Um, for you to be able, that you can't teach, right? Like you are or you aren't.

Skill you can get by if you're kind of exuding that level of, um, wanting to, to learn, wanting to, you know, be the person that always, as we say, kind of center the salt shaker and make sure that things are done right. Um. And your, your overall approach to, to tackle projects. But a lot of it was through conversation, um, and getting to understand and get a feel for, for a person.

Um, sometimes it's, it's, it's harder to do, but, you know, I've interviewed a few people to join my team and. Um, it, you do, you capture that in some lengthy conversations with people and, and get a feel for, um, you know, who they are and, and who is that kind of person to,

Dan Ryan: you're really listening to them.

Jessica: percent.

Dan Ryan: That's what's so crazy about doing these podcasts is it's a very weird form of communication in the sense that okay We're gonna have we're gonna talk for about an hour And in order for me to do my job really well here, I have to be listening and watching and seeing where you're lighting up.

And you know what? And no one's coming to say, would you like sparkling or still? Would you like, would you like red or white? Like apps, mains, there's no interruption. So it's, I really enjoy it. And I, and, but when I first started doing it, It was, um, it's very like unsettling because it, and, and exhausting because you're here, you're doing this and it's just a whole different way of communicating and listening, even though you're using less energy, I would think because talking, you know, you're using more muscles and oxygen and, and you've got to think and get it out.

Listening is really freaking hard.

Jessica: It is, it is, but it's fun because, so again, I'm like throwing out so many isms here. Um, I, what, good. Um, we, we, we like to say that we collect dots to connect dots. So we are actively trying to collect any bits of pieces and connections and, um, things that we heard from someone else. Oh, you mentioned you like that.

Hey, by the way, we, we have the best of that, that you need to taste or try. Um, I use it on the consulting side quite often, um, for. You know, meeting at conferences, right? And just talking to people and, and speaking and saying, Hey, I, you did this. Oh, you know that person? Well, let me introduce you to this person because they're going to be excellent for you at further developing whatever new hotel brand you're looking to do, or you need an agency.

Great. I know an agency and I love connecting with people and that's my side of the collecting dots. Um. But it's, it's fun where you are listening to somebody and it ignites in me a spark to say, Oh my gosh, wait, I remember you said that and I want to connect with somebody over here or

Dan Ryan: So that's really resonating with me. I've been doing some thinking about, you know, we all meet so many people in our lives and like. We have really good vibes with some people, some people maybe not. And I find that those good vibes happen when we have a shared dot, if you will, or

some kind of a, it doesn't even have to necessarily be an experience.

It could be a challenge we went through. It could be, um, a laugh we had, it could be some sort of. Silly piece of news that, and I just, I don't know, it's, it's really weird with me. I just like, hang on to that weird, so specific, unique thing.

And like, I have one friend, we, somehow we were talking about making a movie about, I love heist movies, but then I was like, Oh, it would be really cool if like, you could do a movie about a food heist.

Like someone went and stole Chocolate or it was really just dumb and probably over too many glasses of wine. But now every time I'm if I'm reading the news and I see like people steal truckloads of chocolate or truckloads of Spinach or there's just all these food heists. I didn't know about I never would have recognized them but now every time I see something like that come up I have to share it with them and we have a good laugh and then they're like that is so specific and so weird

but I think they truly appreciate it because it just shows that I'm also thinking about other people throughout the course of my day.

It's like, I love to, I don't know, I don't know if that's empathy or, or, or some kind of other search, but to me, connecting and collecting and connecting dots with people, it really, it lights me up. It's amazing.

Jessica: Absolutely. I feel the same way.

Dan Ryan: Um, since you've been doing what you're doing now, um, obviously you would think it's all, it's all food and restaurant, but it's not,


So what's, what's the most unusual or, or maybe not, maybe not unusual. What's like The most surprising client you've had come through through Union, uh, Union Square Consulting, um, or Union Square Hospitality Group and or hospitality lab, as far as like a business that you wouldn't necessarily expect.

Um, and then how did they come in and how did they leave changed?

Jessica: A lot of, so yeah, surprising clients, um, have been kind of in, in other industries, um, corporate being one of them. Right. Um, and I, I think as we've all kind of seen a lot of industries shift following, Following. Okay. The past three years, there's such a need and a desire, um, to capture that beautiful moment of hospitality outside of the restaurant, right?

And, and corporate is chewing at the bit to, to find ways. to include that magic. Um, one of our clients, uh, is JP Morgan, Chase. Um, and we've done a couple of different, uh, scopes with them, um, most recently. And if you, you walk up Madison, uh, and look up at that massive new headquarters that they're building, um, with Foster.

And Studios, uh, we, we were the food and beverage and hospitality consultants, um, on that project. So, um, it was a way that they were, you know, building this incredible, um, headquarters, new headquarters, um, beautiful design. And. How do you get people back? Right? How do you get people excited? How is there this, um, journey for, uh, the employee to feel like they belong and they're being heard, they're being listened to, and this really becomes something that they have pride in. Hospitality is an incredible way to do that and to look at that. So, yeah, we, we developed for that one, um, still kind of food and beverage focus, but they have two floors, um, for employee dining, um, that we developed kind of the concept and strategy behind. It's about, I think, 12 different, uh, I call them mini restaurants, um, Truly something that, uh, corporate dining to that capacity hasn't seen before.

Um, uh, we developed that and, and kind of on the office floors, um, some of the hospitality touch points, um, even on the top of the floor, something really, truly special, which, uh, only if you're VIP and invited up, you'll get to experience. But, um, we, we had our hand in, in so many different kind of hospitality.

Moments, ways to think of the approach of of that building. Um, so that was kind of a surprising one, um,

Dan Ryan: And then when I'm just curious, so when you're working with like a bank and it doesn't have to be JP Morgan, it's just any bank to me, it's like it's finance, it's numbers, it's performance. Um, okay. There are some, there's relationship managers and everything in there, but I guess it's just reassuring and reaffirming about why I love doing this podcast as well, because I really truly believe.

We all benefit from more hospitality and better hospitality. And, and as much as that 51 percent is really important, I actually think it could be like on the technical side, I think it could even be lower than 49%, right? Because it's really that it's a, it's a really a, it's a, it's a culture fit. It's a, it's a, it's something that's innate, but it's also something that I believe that can be.

If you're not good at it, if you're below 51, it can also, you can teach people how to tap into that as well and, and grow it. It's like a muscle. Um, but I, I do, it's, it's cool to hear doing this with banks because to me, they don't necessarily, and this is just my worldview, they don't seem like the most hospitable of places, but you know, if you really are hearing and listening and putting yourself in someone's shoes and having empathy.

It really just benefits the, it benefits all of the different stakeholders and shareholders and everyone involved. when you're looking at, like, I'm just looking at your, the client list that you're here from the, like, Obama Foundation to the Little Nell to the, a lot of museums. Oh, I love the MoMA. When they come in and then you work with them and you impact them in a positive way. Um, what are the light bulbs that pop off in their head?

Typically, is there like a theme that you're like, Oh, how they hadn't considered it? How you've helped them uncover certain things.

Jessica: I think a lot of it, um, has kind of centered around the way that they look to. And it further grow what we've kind of put forth for them. Um, and a lot of that kind of is, is related to the team, the team that they have in place to execute. Um, so a lot of our consulting projects, we kind of. Do a handover component.

And part of that is a bit of training. Um, and it's kind of very similar to the training that we ourselves do at Union Square. Um, so it's kind of that HQ mentality that enlightened hospitality ethos, um, and our steps of service and how they should be thinking about things. So we kind of give them the playbook, but also some of that training.

So they get excited of this approach of it's, it's us first, let's take care of our team first and this excitement for them to grow. Um, but also hold themselves to this kind of beautiful level of higher hospitality excellence. Um, and it's, it's them looking towards the future and kind of furthering their teams that they have to ultimately run the different operations.

Um, I think that's been kind of. Really beautiful to see.

Dan Ryan: Yeah. I know you just mentioned. The stakeholders and putting team first. One of the things that I was always struck by in reading, setting the table was the, I think he called it like the five stakeholders, the five stakeholders of a, of a restaurant, let's just say, or any business. And I was always struck by how of the five, the investors are number five.

They're last in order of importance. And the whole premise is. Is if you get the team, number one, right? You get the guests or the customers, right? You get the community of where you are, right? And then your suppliers who are supplying everything. If you get all of those, all four of those things, right? The investors are going to benefit asymmetrically.

They're the, it's an outsized benefit to the investors. And most people don't look at it that way.

And then, so I'm intrigued by the training because you never, you, they interviewed you. You had the hosp, you passed the test, you had the hospitality quotient.

And I've heard so much about all of the training, and again, like, it's a muscle that it can be trained, and it is a path of continual improvement. What's been your experience with all of the hospitality training that not only you're doing for others, but that you've experienced yourself?

Jessica: Yeah. Um, so we, we, we do our own training day one. Uh, I, I go through the same as, you know, the person next to me, um, was, you know, going to be a line cook myself. And then there's probably someone from the sales team or it doesn't matter. We're all on the same team. Right. Um, so we all need to be going through that similar kind of approach and an understanding of.

of Enlightened Hospitality and, and, um, what we call our HQ training. Um, so, you know, getting that firsthand, uh, we also get a setting the table book, but it's kind of our version that has a beautiful intro from Danny, uh, to our team. Um, so we get that as, as well, but I think it's. For myself, it's constantly being in our businesses, right?

Firsthand, seeing the teams execute this, live this, breathe this on a day to day basis. So it's, it's a constant reminder because we're all doing it day to day. Whether it's For me back at corporate or for them, uh, you know, at our restaurants or, um, you know, we do even the, the food and beverage operation at Little Island and, and the kind of food trailers and kiosks and seeing the same approach done at.

Manhattan is done at our food trucks. Um, but it's the day in and day out and, um, being part of, um, kind of pre service, uh, meetings with the team. And I just, I'm collecting dots, Dan, every day.

Dan Ryan: So I, okay. So imagine of all the training that you've been through since joining Union Square Hospitality, and you know, you're basically drinking the Kool Aid that you're sharing with everyone else, right?

So using those dots as all the information and the learnings that you've had, what was like the biggest Aha, that you had through the training that, that helped you consider things differently.

Jessica: I, I now I feel like, um, I'm going to be, you know, my, my word of the day is dots. Uh, because, and I, I truly, that was kind of an aha moment when I first, I was at the table with the team. Um, and so, uh, I remember our director of, of HR Ask the prompt, right? We're all sitting in the room. We don't know each other.

Um, and goes, I want somebody to, he brought up a fact of himself first, right? And I don't remember what it was, but if anyone in the room can share a connection, a shared dot with that, you know, introduce yourself and then say something about you. And so a person said, connected with the fact that he had said, and, um, and then had mentioned something about.

Something about family and, um, you know, new life changes. And so at the time I raised my hand and I said, well, you know, actually, uh, you know, I, at the time, my daughter, I think was one year old. And so I was really living a lot of that kind of new family development and dynamics. And, and so I mentioned, you know, joining the team and I have a one year old at home, something, something.

And, and then someone who, um, I believe it might've been a line cook at the time, raised his hand and said, I have a one year old too. And it was, and then somebody, and we could, you, like we were talking before, right, that igniting in yourself of, of that excitement of. Yeah. And you and you and, and how we are so linked and connected, um, and, and being able to just break any of that kind of wall that we might've had and say, no, this is exciting.

We want to know each other and I want to know more about your background. And it was kind of proof in the pudding, right? Of like. This is the magic of what this can do and can unlock. And, and so now, uh, I remember, I think it was on the second birthday of my daughter and his, and it was like, I wrote a little happy birthday card to, um, his son.

And, um, it was just that you remember it cause you made that connection. Um, something that you mentioned, right? It's, you will always remember those moments of how beautifully you can connect with somebody

Dan Ryan: and it's so easy and it doesn't cost a lot of money and it's just having It's like taking a pause and just having a little thought about it.

Jessica: Yeah.

Dan Ryan: Um, you know, it's also interesting, like just looking at your journey and having, having done branding before. Um, I, I feel, um, I've always known branding is important.

Cause you're, you know, you're getting in alignment with like who your market is, what your values are, how do you connect the two, what's the experience going to be, and you come up with these really important pillars. Not many enough. So it's like you're, you're main, you're maintaining focus and then you're taking all that pre work that you've done.

And then you send it out to the menu person. You send it out to the designer, the architect, the MEP person, the signage person, and everyone is kind of. Rowing in the same direction. Um, how did you find that interest in what branding is and how did, I know that you, you took some courses on it as well. And like, how did, how have you taken what you've learned from the idea of branding and setting that table the right way like that

Jessica: Nice.

Dan Ryan: bring and bringing it forward?

Jessica: Yeah. Um, so I, my aha moment, um, when I was, uh, a young designer, um, out in Arizona, I was at a wonderful hospitality firm and, uh, designed my first restaurant. so it was friends and family, uh, and, and went with a few of my friends.

Um, and it was so exciting. It was like this. You know, kind of true validation of why I was meant for hospitality and why this is the industry I love. Um, but sitting there watching everyone enjoy the space that I designed, right. Sitting in the seat, kind of touching, feeling the leather, the lighting, and it was so special and it was like, yes, this is wonderful.

Then, uh, the waiter comes and presents us with the menu and I look down at this menu. I'm looking at the paper and the font and every, and I go, they just missed it. It could have been, uh, so fantastic, right? If, if all of those things were aligned and sung the same song, right? They were part of that same narrative of what they were looking to achieve.

And when it does, when it's all in sync, uh, and, and such a more cohesive vision. You feel it when you walk in and go, wow, that's strong. Uh, so that kind of marked for myself, this moment of going, gotta figure a way to be able to really bring such a stronger interpretation of all facets of that experience.

Um, Which led me down my path. And, um, uh, at a certain point, um, I was over at another restaurant group and, and led, um, their kind of brand design where I kind of rewrote a lot of their narratives for all their, their different concepts, and then drove that with. And how that I then remember I was presenting to the operations team and the marketing team and the culinary team.

Like these are, this is the brands. This is how it's defined. And he, these are those tenants. This is how it applies to operations, right? This is how it applies to design. This is how, but all of that will then speak that same, uh, narrative, that same language. Um, and, uh, it's, it's really powerful when all of those things speak,

Dan Ryan: It's, it's, know, what's the irony of all that is it's really powerful when it all speaks the same direction, but if it's really done cohesively and thoughtfully. Oftentimes it's not noticed. You, you just feel a certain way, but when that menu is not in alignment with

everything else, then you're like,

ah, what happened?

You know? And and it's, it's like, it's, it's like bringing the champagne to your friend, right. Or, or bringing the champagne, two champagnes to the table. It like, the intention is good, but then it's like, creates all of these other. Things that are so minor in a way, but also really important. And it's, it's just important to the, we step back and try and get everything.

It's like, um, it's, I guess it's what design is really. It's like taking all those ideas and, and. And just kind of weaving them together into a very thoughtful work. Um, I have a question. So, if you're I've never worked in a restaurant, and I feel really like, I feel like that's missing in my life. I wish I would have, and maybe that's why


Jessica: want to come work at GrammarSafe?

Dan Ryan: Yeah, maybe. Actually, I might. And, you know what, we'll talk interns after. But, uh, I would love

to, I'd love to give it a try and see what that's all about and go through the training. I think it would be really Um, I think it'll be really valuable, um, especially at one of my favorite places. Um, but there's this balance that you always have to do of like, I guess it's like the experience, but also the efficiency, right?

And it's, or operations and, um, guest experience.

And it's just a really difficult balance, I would think. And like, how do you How do you approach that balance all the like of getting it right and always and always adapting?

Jessica: Well, I think, you know, so much of the initial kind of preparation that we do, um, you know, when things are in sync, it, it's a lot easier for them to run smoothly, right? Um, when things are out of step, there's that hiccup. Uh, so I think a lot of it is. Uh, we've got a lot of incredibly talented peoples with eyes on it that are all kind of very skilled in what they, they need to, to execute on.

And, and we're all speaking to each other, um, so that there isn't, you know, no one's working in a silo where we're constantly in communication and they're focusing on our team. Right. We're, we're making sure that everyone is good and, and they, they aren't left alone so that. If someone needs help, we're there to support.

Um, we're a very well oiled machine, but that is because we're all focused on that kind of outcome and wanting to support each other and wherever someone needs that. Um,

Dan Ryan: I, I'm, I'm like a very systems process kind of geek. And if you think about that, that idea of the hiccup, right? So in a restaurant, making furniture, opening hotels, whatever, whatever, whatever you think, you always think you've seen it all. But in the back of your mind, you know that you're like, Oh, I can't wait to be fucking surprised today.

what surprise is coming my way? So like using. At your restaurants, for instance, a hiccup happens. You think you've seen everything. How do you, obviously you have to triage whatever the thing is right at that moment, but how do you guys take that hiccup and that experience and then learn from it and, and share it?

Jessica: I mean, I, I think, you know, part of part of our team, all being kind of focused on what's going on is. We all understand that things will go wrong, right? Um, and we'll have people that will immediately try and fix the situation. But we also have teams that will then be able to communicate that to the guest.

Um, so for example, um, Let's say, you know, certainly it happens in the summer months where, you know, it gets far too hot and the air conditioning might go out. Uh, that's never a pleasant experience for the guest and it's, uh, not ideal on our end too, so we're kind of quick behind the scenes calling facilities and we're going to try to do a solve, but a part of that is making sure we have kind of our eyes.

Like, who is this impacting in an unpleasant way and being able to come to them and say, we are so sorry, this is going on. You know, how can we, you know, offering them another reservation on another night? Or we've already been able to, if you're interested, we've got seats for you at the bar at. Gramercy or, you know, we will come with a solution.

Um, because yeah, things always happen. It's, it's restaurants, it's hospitality like

Dan Ryan: Right. And is that like in that learning or like you're taking, you're taking that experience, you're, you know, learning from it and getting out there. Does that, is that what feeds into that idea? I think he called it like the virtuous cycle of,

the virtuous cycle of

enlightened Hospitality or enlightened hospitality?

One of But I feel like it is like a flywheel of continuous learning, right?

And then,

Jessica: Yeah.

Dan Ryan: and then if memory serves me correct, you guys also Coach leadership teams and everything else from other companies that have may have nothing to do with it Like how do you how do you find those dots and connect those dots with those people when you get?

Leadership teams in like how do you take that enlightened hospitality approach? And apply it to leadership teams of companies.

Jessica: Yeah. I, we, we, uh. We've got a couple of different divisions underneath the Union Square Hospitality Portfolio, uh, one of which is, uh, HQ, Hospitality Quotient, and, and that's that, um, you know, that Teaching Enlightened Hospitality and how to apply it to Any side of business that you're on. Um, we do get a fair share of corporate clients.

Uh, we also get people in the restaurant world who are looking to kind of practice what we, we do day in and day out. Um, but also hotel groups. Um, we had someone that was from, I believe, uh, a food. Uh, company, and they were looking to kind of apply that to themselves. Um, but then we also have, uh, Hospitality Lab.

So it's, there's the Enlightened Hospitality training to apply to your business. But then there's our team, Hospitality Lab, which is consulting and applying Enlightened Hospitality to Any one of your businesses. So rather than just teaching you, we're teaching while we deliver an experience, um, that you're looking to achieve in your, whether you're your business, your hotel, um, your museum, your, you name it.

Um, so we've got a couple of different functions underneath our larger umbrella.

Dan Ryan: So let's pretend there's a company out there. You know, a lot of entrepreneurs listen to this. They make widgets. I don't know, some kind of a widget. They are of a certain size. They have a leadership team. They want to get some extra, um, tool sharpening, so to speak as a team, as an individual, what's the, like, how do you approach a company like that?

Like, let's say they're like, Oh, I'm intrigued by this. Like, walk me through, like what, what's the, what's the experience.

Jessica: Well, for a team, I guess it's. It's collecting dots, right? Really understanding what it is that they're looking to achieve, um, and having a conversation with them. And I think out of that, if they're saying we want to get the Enlightened Hospitality approach and ethos to our, our training, you know, our team, I would kick it over to my friends over at, at HQ, uh, if in conversation they said, You know, we, we really love this, this understanding of your approach to businesses.

We're looking to, uh, create, um, uh, uh, an coffee offering to our corporate clients, um, but really need to strategize on. Back of house operations, because we really don't have a kitchen, but, um, we've got this small footprint for pantry, you know, how can we be very strategic about it, but also be very conscious of our P& L, um, but once you feature some kind of innovative coffee offering, they call my team and we will then say, all right, let's, let's dive into this together.

Um, so different functions of, of consulting of how we can deliver, um, our enlightened hospitality to, to people.

Dan Ryan: And are you, if there's other people who are out there or companies or humans and they're like, Oh, I'd love to learn more about this. Are there other like seminars or masterclasses or Events that, that they can come to or look forward to and join. And, and what are some experiences around there that you guys might have?

Jessica: Well, I would love for them to reach out to me, uh, first and foremost, uh, because probably I'd love to. to grab a drink with them, um, and better understand what they're looking to do. Um, but absolutely, Hospitality Quotient does some really fantastic workshops, um, throughout the year. So that's a, an incredible way to go about some of that initial training.

Dan Ryan: So you're in this world, you're, you're here, you're making differences in, in companies, restaurants, people, um, as you're looking forward into next year and, and beyond, like what's exciting you most?

Jessica: we've got some really interesting clients that we are working with, some of which I Can share, share. Um, one of which is a, a restaurant group from Bogota, Columbia. Um, they have a, a great operation down there, um, but are looking to, to come to the states, um, and create a restaurant group here. Uh, so we are.

Working hand in hand to set up their first location, um, down, uh, in the Miami area, um, but then looking to really help and shape their growth, um, for a larger, um, position and out here. Um, so that's one there. Really fun. Uh, we've had some good trips together. Um, we've got, uh, we're working with, um, wonderful friends over at Hilton, um, and developing a new concept with them that they will be rolling out, um,

Dan Ryan: Uh, an F& B or like a hotel concept.

Jessica: their F& B.


Dan Ryan: I can't wait to learn more about that and hear more about that. That's awesome.

all right. So on your journey from designing restaurants to now doing hospitality consulting, If you were to magically appear in front of your younger self at Arizona State University, um, what advice, go Sun Devils, what advice would you have for yourself?

Jessica: I, I would, I would tell my younger self to continue to follow My passion, um, that has led me to where I am today and has not led me astray. Um, that I was very fortunate early on, um, to, to know I wanted to be in design and creating and developing. Um, and there were points in my career where. You know, you start to kind of question and doubt, is there a next move?

Where should I go next? Um, and, and following that, you know, North star of, of where my true passion, um, what really got me excited, uh, has, has led me to where I am today and, and had kind of a great, gave me focus, um, on, on wanting to drive in that direction. Yeah. Mm

Dan Ryan: I love that. And it also, like as, as I'm hearing you say that, it's making me think of one of my favorite lines from setting the table, which was, uh, I think when Danny was trying to decide whether he, goes into restaurants or becomes a lawyer. And his, I think it was his uncle or something was like, you know, you're dead a lot longer than you're alive.

it's really, it's that whole idea of seize the day, um, gather your rosebuds.

Um, and it's about being in that place where it doesn't feel like, it doesn't feel like work,

know? Um, and it's

just being in that place. Um, Well, this has been awesome. If people wanted to learn more about you or Union Square Hospitality, um, how do they do it?

Jessica: Ooh. A couple of things. Um, absolutely check out our website, specifically it's unionsquareevents. com. Um, but also listen, like I think I've, I've studied it here multiple times. I love connecting with people. So truly, um. I would love and welcome anyone to, to reach out to me, uh, on LinkedIn. Um, and yeah, uh, you can find me at the bar.

I literally, last night I was over at CCO, um, connecting with more people that I'm now so much more happy that I have, uh, in my network of people here.

Dan Ryan: Wonderful. Um, well, Jessica, thank you so much. It's been so wonderful and I thank you so much for your time.

Jessica: Thank you. Uh, this was fun.

Dan Ryan: Oh, good. I'm glad. And, uh, also thank you to our listeners. And without you, we wouldn't be here talking and learning about how hospitality can make us all better. And. I think if we all walk away from one thing here, no matter what we do, we all benefit from hospitality and learning and to get into some practice of building that muscle on the hospitality quotient or developing or strengthening that hospitality gene, which we all have.

Um, I think it just all makes everything we do better. So thank you. And if, if you walked away thinking that here, please pass this along because, you know, we grow by word of mouth and we appreciate you. Thank you.

Collect The Dots To Connect The Dots - Jessica Gidari - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 136
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