Where Members 'Are Always Right'

at work

Andreas Doulamatis: Maitre D', The Center Club

May 03, 2009|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Salary: $52,000

Age: 49

Years on the job: 11

How he got started: Andreas Doulamatis moved from Greece to Ohio to attend the University of Toledo. He majored in economics and campaign management, but while still in school began working at a private club as a supervisor. He didn't finish school and instead decided to relocate to the Baltimore/Washington area after accepting a job as maitre d' with the former International Club of Washington. He worked there for almost 10 years. When the commute became too much, he looked for work closer to home and became the maitre d' at the Center Club, on the 15th and 16th floors of the Legg Mason building.

Typical day: Doulamatis' job is to ensure that the private, members-only club runs smoothly.

"I am here to take care of the members and to make sure they have exactly what they need when they need it," he said.

The Center Club, with about 1,600 members, is open for lunch and dinner every day except Sunday and for breakfast by appointment.

His work includes greeting members and their guests, prepping the club for service, assigning staff to their stations and making adjustments when needed. He said he turns a critical eye on the dining room, looking for missing silverware, unfilled water glasses or food coming out of the kitchen late.

He runs two daily staff meetings, one before each meal, where he goes over particulars for the day, including what reservations are expected, special instructions and featured menu items of the day.

He also must make the schedule for the service staff. He estimates that he puts in 10 to 12 hours a day.

Being extroverted and having a good memory helps with the job, he said. He will try to find out why members are there and if they are celebrating a special occasion or need privacy for a business meeting.

Do what you enjoy: "I like my job," he said. "If you don't have fun on the job, get another one."

Downturn in the economy: Although the Center Club experienced a drop in attendance with the faltering economy, numbers have picked up in recent weeks, Doulamatis said.

Changes ahead: The main dining area will undergo a renovation in the coming weeks to update the space and take advantage of the club's views of the Inner Harbor. The lounge and grill areas will remain open during that time. Doulamatis said he's looking forward to the renovation and the chance to increase membership.

The good: "The human interaction with members and delivering what I promise."

The bad: Scheduling and employees calling in sick. It can interrupt the flow at work and have a detrimental effect on member services.

Philosophy: "The members are always right. Listen to the members. Recognize who they are and make them happy," he said. "You don't return to a place that doesn't make you happy."

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