In the newest episode of The Garnish Podcast, I sat down with Adam Silsby – the General Manager of Cambridge restaurant Pagu, named one of Eater's Top Restaurant Newcomers in Boston in 2017.
Adam walked us through his journey of restaurant success- -- from Applebee's, to The Inn at Little Washington, to Row 34 in Boston.
Read on to see what tips Adam has for aspiring restauratuers, or listen to our conversation with him in the latest episode of The Garnish!
On Server Training
At Row 34, Adam played a crucial role in the server training program. Since restaurant industry turnover is 72.9% , and restaurateurs say that hiring & training is their biggest challenge, we asked Adam how he went about beating the odds.
"Servers are some of the hardest people to manage, and education is arguably the biggest component of their role. Waiting tables comes easy to some, where you can multi-task well and you know how to chat with people. The education piece is something that is entirely on management, and management needs to pish that education agenda if they're going to retain anything."
Adam attributes the success of his training program to the culture of the Garret Harker restaurant group, which includes former Garnish guest Deena Marlette's restaurant Branch Line.
"We would set aside an hour before each dinner service and dedicate it to education. About 30 minutes of that would be a manager who was assigned that day who would do a lesson, or an interactive activity, or a tasting every single day to drive home that education factor."
On Standing Out
Located in Cambridge, Pagu is in the middle of one of the best food scenes in the country. This means there's a lot of competition that Adam & his team have to stand out from.
"I think what [Pagu] brings is something different. I think it's not just different for Cambridge but it's different for Boston. The Asian flavors are very homey, but blending that with Spanish food...there's something about it that's really unique that you don't see across Cambridge, or Boston really. I think the elevated version of those foods is what makes us stand out."
On Experimenting With New Drinks
Pagu is also lauded for its beverage program.
Adam, who has years of experience tending bar and managing beverage programs, loves helping diners expand their palate with his drink options.
"It's finding what people want or introducing them to something new," he says. "Opening people's eyes to something that they haven't tried before is a lot of fun."
Specifically, Adam has a passion for craft beer, and was even able to pull off the impossible by getting a keg of Tree House Brewing beer for Row 34. The rise of craft beer has been an integral part of his restaurant career.
"It's pretty fascinating. When I was doing a craft beer list 10-12 years ago I was trying to push it in a fine dining restaurant and I would just sit on these beers for months. I'm really excited that both the craft beer movement has started to move forward but also that restaurants are embracing."
On Restaurant Technology
Adam's restaurant Pagu uses Toast POS; using this platform has freed up Adam's time so he can focus more on doing what he loves.
"The ability to check reports anywhere in the world via the web is the greatest thing ever," he says.