Blog Post / July 12, 2018

Chance Encounters of the Hospitality Kind

by Bianca McLaren
Bianca McLaren

A Seat at the Table: Interview with SevenRooms Team Member

Name: Drew Friedman

Role: Customer Success Coordinator

First Hospitality Job: Louie’s Oyster Bar & Grille

Favorite Hidden Gem: Thursday Kitchen

Coolest Way A Client Uses 7R: The Burj Al Arab, a Jumeirah Group property in Dubai, has an iPad at the front gate to the hotel. When a guest pulls up to join for a reservation, the gatekeepers change their status to ‘Gate’ so the restaurant knows they have about 5 minutes before the guest is walking up to the host stand.

From Operations to Tech: A Journey Through Hospitality

Growing up with a mom in the party planning business, you could say that I was destined to end up in hospitality. It was a huge part of my life as I grew into an adult, from my first job as a busboy and then waiter at Louie’s, a 103-year-old seafood restaurant in Port Washington, to my later roles with Ai Fiori, Rosewood London, Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) and Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

Everyone has something in their life they geek out about, and for me that was cooking, restaurants and hospitality. There is something so simple about a guest walking through the door, and having them leave with a smile. It’s powerful -- and that was an aspect of the restaurant business I wanted to be a part of. So throughout high school and college, I soaked up as many hospitality-focused internships as I could to learn about all things restaurant operations.

I’ve been in the room for some pretty incredible hospitality experiences, however, with the good, also comes the cringeworthy. I’ll never forget my first day at Michelin-starred New York restaurant Ai Fiori. I was a sophomore in college, and still learning the front of house ropes. As many high-end restaurants do, they had these beautiful, gold-plated show plates waiting at the tables when a guest sat down, which were then promptly removed ahead of the first course. As I was collecting the plate and transferring it to someone else to take away, it dropped and shattered. The restaurant was silent and everyone’s heads whipped around to see who had dropped the plate. It was deafening. Let’s just say I never made that mistake again!

I actually met Joel Montaniel (SevenRooms CEO and Co-Founder) by coincidence while working the TechTable conference. I was chatting with one of my former bosses, and Joel came up and started talking with us about SevenRooms and everything that was happening at the company. I’d always been interested in the intersection between technology and hospitality, and after several years in operations, I was ready to step into a different side of the hospitality space.

After interviewing with the team, I realized that SevenRooms is where I wanted to be. When you’ve worked in the fast-paced restaurant world, the organized chaos of a tech startup is actually very similar - and it was an easy transition!

Working here, my drive and passion for hospitality has only grown stronger. Though I’m no longer on the operations side serving guests, our company is building a platform that helps our restaurant clients to provide amazing, above and beyond hospitality experiences to their guests. If there’s one thing this company has taught me, it’s that hospitality is a universal language that pervades so much of our everyday lives and interactions -- and that’s pretty magical.

About the Author

Bianca McLaren

Bianca McLaren is the Senior Manager, Brand Marketing at SevenRooms, where she heads up brand awareness, communications and event programming. Based at New York HQ, she's always on the hunt for the best sushi in the city.