The Art of Hos­pi­tal­ity: Jor­dan Nova of Spago, Bev­erly Hills

Mas­ter­ing the so­phis­ti­cated style of hos­pi­tal­ity


Mas­ter­ing the so­phis­ti­cated style of hos­pi­tal­ity, Jor­dan talks with us about the world of hos­pi­tal­ity and the Los

An­ge­les hotspots.

The sec­ond time I saw Jor­dan Nova, I rec­og­nized him not by his im­pec­ca­bly tai­lored Armani suit, or by his sin­cere smile, but rather in the crisp way he poured my glass of Cham­pagne. And I did not even know his name at that point. It was a few years be­fore that we had first met, while I was sit­ting in a restau­rant 2,500 miles across the Pa­cific Ocean on Oahu. But here, com­pletely out of geographical con­text, I knew him im­me­di­ately by his so­phis­ti­cated style of hos­pi­tal­ity.

How did this 27-year-old pro­fes­sional get to be in man­age­ment at the el­e­gant Spago, Bev­erly Hills – the mother ship of Wolf­gang Puck’s restau­rant em­pire? Sim­ple, it is his fo­cused ap­proach, tire­less work ethic and a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence gained in var­i­ous restau­rants where he has al­ways worked with the best James Beard Foundation and Miche­lin-awarded chefs. The restau­rants of Daniel Boulud in New York City to Roy Ya­m­aguchi in Hawaii are prime ex­am­ples of the “in­sti­tu­tions” that taught Jor­dan vary­ing styles of ser­vice and cui­sine, while of­fer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for him to share his pas­sion for wine with his guests. Nova is one of the youngest som­me­liers who has achieved the ti­tle Ad­vanced Som­me­lier through the Court of Master Som­me­liers, and is a Cer­ti­fied Spe­cial­ist of Wine through the So­ci­ety of Wine Ed­u­ca­tors.

What makes a fine-din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence ex­cep­tional? For a guest, it can be many things. As some­one who has made hos­pi­tal­ity his art, and for whom fine-tun­ing and learn­ing is con­stant, Jor­dan is now As­sis­tant Gen­eral Man­ager at Spago, Bev­erly Hills where he em­braces his mis­sion to en­sure his staff and guests have memorable ex­pe­ri­ences each evening. Lux­eGet­aways re­cently asked this ris­ing hos­pi­tal­ity star a few ques­tions about what he does so well.

LG: Jor­dan, what con­sti­tutes per­fect ser­vice at Spago?

JN: It’s funny, we talk so much about this elu­sive “per­fect ser­vice” of flaw­less move­ments, pre­cise sil­ver­ware place­ments, po­etic food de­scrip­tions and ev­ery tiny de­tail in place, but it’s ac­tu­ally so much more. Guests come ex­pect­ing these things, but they come back to feel the love, and to feel val­ued. If ev­ery­one left our din­ing room feel­ing like they’re wel­comed, they’re im­por­tant, and they’re cared for - then they will leave feel­ing val­ued. When that hap­pens, we have achieved some­thing more than per­fec­tion in ser­vice. I think we’ve then cre­ated a re­la­tion­ship… and in the end, that’s most im­por­tant.

LG: Tell us your mantra or mis­sion with re­spect to hos­pi­tal­ity?

JN: I’m con­stantly re­mind­ing my­self and my col­leagues that we are not in food ser­vice, and we are not in wine ser­vice; but that we are in the restau­rant in­dus­try, and we are in the hos­pi­tal­ity pro­fes­sion. The hos­pi­tal­ity be­gins with us.

LG: What are the unique tal­ents and ideas that you bring to Spago?

JN: Spago is daunt­ing be­cause we have 180 team mem­bers. At­ti­tude is ev­ery­thing. I try my ab­so­lute best ev­ery mo­ment to smile. When I ar­rive, I shake ev­ery­one’s hand and say hello and ask about his or her day. Up un­til the mo­ment I walk out of the door, the sin­cere per­for­mance of hos­pi­tal­ity can­not just be for the guests, but for ev­ery­one. It’s also ex­tremely im­por­tant that the words “I,” “me,” ”they” and “them” be elim­i­nated from your lex­i­con. For ex­am­ple, rather than say­ing, “I need you to set ta­ble 10 for six peo­ple,” I would say in­stead, “When you have a mo­ment, we’d like ta­ble 10 for six.”

LG: You al­ways look so pol­ished Jor­dan, what brands do you wear?

JN: I am a small guy, so I’m pretty stuck with form fit­ting suits. I love Em­po­ria Armani for nights when I re­ally have to move and look dap­per. On a bud­get I also wear a lot of Top­Man pieces. For ac­ces­sories I have a few David Yur­man rings and tie clips that are sta­ples, as well as my fa­vorite Mo­vado watch. Our guests make a tremen­dous ef­fort to look great when they see us, so the least we can do is re­cip­ro­cate the ef­fort.

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