Blog Post / June 14, 2018

A Seat at the Table – From The Culinary Institute of America to SevenRooms: Catching the Hospitality Bug

A Seat at the Table: Interview with SevenRooms Team Member

Name: Austen Asadorian

Team: Senior Account Executive, Sales

Market(s): Seattle, Nashville, Denver, Washington D.C.

First Career in Hospitality: Hillstone Restaurant Group

Favorite NYC Restaurant: Momofuku Ssäm Bar

Best Hidden Gem: Hamilton Pork’s outdoor BBQ pit in New Jersey

I got my start in hospitality as a freshman in high school, getting a job at Italian Riviera in New Jersey. It was a great introduction to the hospitality space, as I got to try a little bit of everything working there, from how to butcher fish and meats, to working in the catering business dealing with customers and managing events.

I continued working at the deli throughout college, and as I was about to graduate, the team kept asking my post-grad plans -- telling me I should consider a career in hospitality. I had a passion for food, and in my travels, I started to care deeply about the diverse cultures and dining experiences around the world. So I took the leap and applied to culinary school.

I ended up going to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), but during my time there I knew I wasn’t going to be the next Daniel Boulud or redefine the culinary industry. So I stayed on and got a degree in hospitality management, with plans to enter the industry in an operational role.

When I finished at CIA, I took a job at Hillstone Restaurant Group as part of their Manager in Training (MIT) program. I started in the back of house, learning how to run a kitchen efficiently -- from P&Ls to scheduling -- getting promoted to manage Hillstone Midtown after 8 weeks.

One thing they never tell you about running a restaurant is how much work goes into keeping it running smoothly. My first week on the job I worked 115 hours -- and consistently worked 80-100 hours a week during my time there -- with very little time off. That was my first real introduction to the industry!

My most memorable day at the restaurant, by far, was during Hurricane Sandy, as we were one of the few places with power in Midtown, and ended up doing $100,000 in revenue in a single day. We were able to step in and help the local community, placing food orders, and being a place people could charge their phones and stay dry. For a company that thrives on efficiency, and having all that thrown out the window, it was definitely the most challenging day I’ve experienced at a restaurant!

Over the past year at SevenRooms, it’s been exciting to see the conversation shift from a data-driven system being a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have.’ I joined SevenRooms because I was hyper aware of the pain points in the industry surrounding reservation, seating and guest management technology after having lived it in my day to day for several years. More importantly, I joined our company because I believe in the vision of what we’re building -- and know we’re changing the way the industry operates, one restaurant at a time.

After three years outside hospitality working in a different tech sector, one of the things I didn’t realize I missed was the sense of community and collaboration. This was apparent at the restaurants I’ve worked at in the past, and is absolutely true at SevenRooms. We have many different diverse parts of the business that all work together towards the same end result -- in the same way that back of house and front of house staff work together to ensure their guests have the best experience possible. Our dynamic company perfectly blends together technology and the hospitality industry, and we love seeing the real impact this has on our clients’ businesses everyday.