Sam Mason Knows an A-hole When He Meets One

Post no bills, and hire no jerks.Photo: Melissa Hom

Welcome to the latest installment of the Launch, where Sam Mason, former pastry chef at wd-50, relates the ups and downs of preparing to open Tailor, the swanky restaurant and lounge coming together at 525 Broome Street.

I didnt go out to the Beard after-parties. I love the awards, and I love seeing everybody, but I was just getting tired of people asking when Im going to open, so I decided to drink elsewhere. I was glad to see Michael Laskonis win the Pastry Chef award. Hes a great guy, and his work is really aesthetically pleasing to me. Im as anxious as everyone else to get cooking. The tiles are going down Thursday and the equipment Friday. We dont have a boiler yet, but soon Ill be back cooking again, finally, and thats really exciting for me.

Right now we're going through the secondary phase of interviews for the front of the house. Ian Lowe, our manager, did most of the interrogation. We sat down with people at Caf Noir, had some iced tea, and tried to get a read on what kind of person they were. Once again, I was rather useless. Its really not a matter of asking specific questions; its just a gut feeling about whether someone really gets it.

Some people, you can tell right away that they wont work out. Especially when they start asking inappropriate questions like What do the uniforms look like? Buddy, slow down! Im asking the questions here. The truth is that you really dont know anything until you see them in action. Thats why we have to hire 10 to 15 percent more staff than we really need: Some of them are going to have to be let go, and others are just going to decide its not for them.

We should probably think about hiring a porter soon, but were bringing in this one guy, and we know that hell be bringing in all kinds of family members and friends and cousins. But with any kind of position, the main thing is not to have assholes around. If youre a good person, youre a good waiter. I dont want someone who knows everything; I want someone with common sense that knows when to bug you and when not to bug you. A smart human being rather a knowledgeable waiter.