If you talk to any owner about to open up the hottest place in the universe, he will tell you that his place will bring service to a “whole new level,” and that very few can hope to understand what he’s talking about. For the most part, few really reinvent the wheel. The service experience is pretty standard on the high end. The places that understand their particular niche, and the heroes of that niche, become fodder for Page 6 items for years. The money just flows like Grey Goose from a bottle waitron’s skilled hands. The Strategic/Lavo crew do what they do better than anyone. When I say that I don’t mean to imply that they’re better than the Butter/1Oak crew, or the Provocateur gang, or even the Kenmare/Don Hill’s dudes. Each of these groups have their own way of doing it, saying it, playing the game. Each of these groups have their own followings. Now, there’s a lot of overlap as the hob-knobbers hob knob around.
They say that behind every great man there is a great woman. In an industry with very few female players, Jayma Cordoza is as good as it gets. She is a bottle selling machine. She has taken her Euro/South American/big spender clout to Lavo, and is now with my pal Andrew Goldberg, and of course those great men Noah, Jason, Mark Packer, and Rich Wolf. She is curating a brunch for the uptown sect. Traditionally loaded with loot, this uptown scene has been catered to by less stylish uptown joints. They religiously travel to the downtown hot spots where they like to slum. Lavo brings the high end Vegas/NY service schtick north of the usual borders to 58th street. It enters the lucrative and crowded brunch fray with location as an advantage.
Always a smile, always genuine interest and enthusiasm. You make us all feel wanted or like an old friend. What drives you? Creating amazing guest experiences. That’s what everyone wants; a shared experience with their family, friends, and people they meet.
Where did you grow up, and how did you come to this? I’m from Curitiba. It’s the largest city in the southern region of Brazil. Its population is largely descended from Italian, German, Ukranian, Russian, and Polish immigrants…So, I’m actually much more European than one would expect. I came to the US to study Biology and learn English. How did you start—where, and what was it like for you? I started at a restaurant called Boom in SoHo, where I told the owner, Rocco, that I was an experienced bartender. He soon found out I wasn’t, and he fired me, but he later rehired me to work at Boom Bistro in the Hamptons as a host. I did everything: I was a nightclub coat check, hostess, maitre’d, waitress, bartender, and a cocktail waitress. What advice would you give to a pretty young thing on how to become a great bottle waitress? Exceed all expectations. To do so, you should think as if you were hosting a party for friends and family at your home. That means looking your best, making sure all your guests are comfortable, and going out of your way to make them feel special. I don’t think of anyone as my client. They are always my guest, and in doing so, some become my friends, and others I consider family. Be motivated and hold passion in your role, I personally love what I do. Putting great passion into anything creates a positive drive to push you to succeed. You must be authentic, and genuine, or you will lose all credibility with your guest. How has bottle service changed in the last five years? Where is it going? I think in principle nothing has changed. Bottle Service was really just a smart way to provide better service (no waiting for a waitress to serve you a drink). As time went on, grandiose presentations became more common. Which, to be honest, isn’t for everyone, but at the same time it can be very creative and a fun way to create energy at a guest’s table, and the club as a whole. I know everyone thinks it’s done to generate profit, but happy guests always make the best business, and that comes via service.
Lavo is open – its no longer a theory. What is really working in the room? What was adjusted as you guys saw the room actually functioning, and were there some pleasant surprises? There are so many things that work well for the room, at the restaurant and the club. The beauty of the room is that you can see everything that is going on. It’s an ability that gives each guest a vantage point of what’s unfolding around them. The only adjustment we’ve made was, initially we thought we would need more people to give the right feel to the room. When we hosted some smaller events prior to the opening, we realized the room really worked better with less people than anticipated. For me, a pleasant surprise was at Brunch this past weekend. Lavo has these large yellow lighted windows inside the restaurant …it gives a beautiful nighttime ambiance during brunch, providing an energy I haven’t felt anywhere else for brunch. You are always a woman amongst a great deal of men in this biz— why is that? Will women soon emerge as a force in the biz? And yes, I know about Amy Sacco and a handful of other successful ladies. Amy is amazing. I think women are naturally better equipped to host. We’re more nurturing and attentive by nature. Women, for decades, have shown they can excel in business, but this business requires a certain toughness that you don’t see in corporate environments. So, it takes a very unique individual. You know, it’s what they say about Fred and Ginger. Sure he was great but she did it all in heels while dancing backwards. I don’t even know what my shoe repairman thinks I do, I drop off my Alaia, or Christian Louboutins, and he looks at me like I might be an axe murder. How many contacts are in your Blackberry, and is it your primary way of communicating? How do you handle the volume of calls and needs of your clientele? I live on my Blackberry. I deserve a sponsorship or my very own line of Blackberry’s. I get BBMs, texts, emails, and all my phone calls via my Blackberry. I probably get over 800 types of communication per day. I haven’t counted how many contacts I have on my phone, but let’s just say if you’re in my contacts. You’re keeping good company. What makes LAVO Brunch different? Well lets start with the team: Noah, Jason, Marc, Rich, and Andrew Goldberg. Need I say more? Collectively, many years of experience in the hospitality world. There’s something very special about brunch. Our first experience,and memories of brunch are as kids for holidays, and family gatherings. It was a joyous occasion. You had to get dressed up, there was a decadence, and spectacle to it. I think Andrew has done a great job of curating the brunch, so if feels like you’re at a European Brunch with a New York twist. It captures the wonderment of what a brunch should be: a build up, starting with an amazing meal, and conversation that then transforms as the afternoon goes on to music and dance.
What kind of people would I expect to see at brunch? Really, you’ll see a mixture of all worlds colliding on a Saturday afternoon. During the week, one tends to stick to their neighborhood. But on weekends, I think people like to explore the city, as they have more free time. So, I expect you’ll find diversity.
What is your favorite item on the menu? My favorite food is the raw bar. I love Oysters, but don’t forget I’m Brazilian, and we love our meat, so the Kobe Beef Meatballs with whipped fresh ricotta cheese, too. But I like my traditional fare, so don’t look the other way, or I’ll be sneaking a bite of your French Toast. A glass of Rose always make brunch complete