Name: Joseph Cassis
Title: Head Bartender, PassionFish Bethesda
Hometown: Charleston, W.Va.
Favorite color: Gray
Favorite quote: “It’s just crabcakes. You sell them, we cook them, they eat them. Crabcakes.” – Glenn Holly, Owner of Monteray Bay Fish Grotto
In this interview days after the 2017 RAMMY Award Gala, Eatery Pulse News catches up with Joseph Cassis, Employee of the Year.
Eatery Pulse News: First of all, how did it feel to be recognized on the biggest stage in the D.C.-area restaurant industry?
Joseph Cassis: Overwhelming. They give the nominees the option of sitting up front with two people. I chose to sit in the back with my team who had come to support me. I was truly stunned to win, but to be in front of so many people who I respect and admire made it much more meaningful.
What is the biggest thing you love about working in restaurants and the favorite part about your job?
JC: It’s difficult to pick one, but the energy of a high volume restaurant is amazing. Everyone is doing something different, but we’re all working towards the same goal of creating the best guest experience possible—it’s incredibly rewarding. My bar team and regulars have become my family. Even when there are bad days I am excited to come in, be better, learn more, and push the envelope. Our program is only as good as the last shift. Every day is an opportunity to improve.
Please name some of the individuals who have been mentors.
JC: More people than I can name have helped my growth over the years, but I wouldn’t be the bartender I am today without the guidance of Jim McGavin. He is one of the best bartenders and people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with in DC. My beverage director, Scott Clime, taught me how to manage a bar. He instilled an appreciation for consistency, the importance of standing behind my decisions and embracing (the fact) that failure sometimes happens.
Tell us what you see as the biggest obstacle to success for restaurants.
JC: Online reviews. When a guest has a great experience they tend to tell one friend, when they have a bad experience, ten. Social media has exponentially changed this dynamic. I have watched guests write a poor review at the table instead of communicating their disappointment with our staff directly. The anonymity can allow people to troll a restaurant without giving them the chance to turn the situation around for the better. Passion Food Hospitality believes in each guest leaving the restaurant with a smile on their face. Our challenge is to create an environment where guests openly communicate any issues with us directly.
Read more stories like this in our Fall 2017 Digital Issue.