Ivette Casiano: When it comes to dealing with customer issues, “There's nothing I can't handle.” (Photo by Len Lear)

Ivette Casiano: When it comes to dealing with customer issues, “There’s nothing I can’t handle.” (Photo by Len Lear)

by Len Lear

Ivette Casiano, 25, a server at Heirloom at the top of the Hill, is one of the sweetest, most pleasant and efficient servers one could ever meet. Thus, we thought the many diners who have been waited on by Ivette might like to know more about her. Following are questions we posed to her last week and her answers:

Q: Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?

A: I grew up in the Marshall Square area of North Philadelphia. I currently reside in the Queen Village area of South Philly.

Q: Where did you go to high school?

A: I went to several different high schools. Benjamin Franklin, Franklin Learning Center, Hillsborough (Tampa, FL) and East Bay (Riverview, FL) high schools.

Q: Are you still going to school? If so, what major?

A: Yes, I’m a nursing major at Community College of Philadelphia.

Q: What are your parents’ names and their jobs/professions?

A: My mother’s name is Leslie. She owns two beauty parlors by the name of Leslie’s Creations and a consignment shop. My father passed away when I was younger.

Q: How did you wind up working at Heirloom?

A: I’ve worked for the Bynum brothers (owners of Heirloom) for over six years now. I started out working at Warmdaddy’s (Southern cuisine), but after a few years I needed a change. That’s when I ended up at Heirloom.

Q: Do you get to sample the dishes? If so, which ones have been your favorites?

A: Yes, that’s one of the perks of my job! And of course, working with chef Al (Paris). It’s hard for me to narrow it down because there are so many amazing dishes. But a few of my favorites are the foie gras served over a delicious crisp spoon-bread, chestnut-smoked duck breast with savoy chow-chow (spiced cabbage), and our roasted fairytale pumpkin stuffed with a pumpkin kale risotto. Simply divine.

Q: What are the best parts about waiting on the public?

A: The privilege to meet new and different people everyday.

Q: What are the worst parts?

A: My daily effort to meet individual expectations.

Q: Did you ever have an experience with a customer who was, shall we say, somewhat rude or unpleasant? If so, how did you handle it?

A: Yes. I actually take extra care of them, also while giving them space. The key is to remain calm, focused and to keep a smile on your face. It may be challenging at times, but it’s healthier for me or anyone else not to feed off of negative energy. Remind yourself it’s not you; they may just be having a bad day. We all do.

Q: What percentage of the bill would you say most people leave for a tip?

A: 20-25 percent.

Q: Can you normally guess what kind of a tip people will leave? In other words, do the friendliest people leave the best tips and the quietest people leave the worst tips?

A: No, not at all, it’s so unpredictable. If any wait staff were to make these assumptions, they more than likely would be pre-judging and possibly not giving great service by assuming a guest is a bad tipper beforehand.

Q: What have been your other work experiences?

A: I’ve worked in retail with Victoria Secret and Express for about five months. I admit I was horrible. I also worked as a jeweler.

Q: How would you compare them to your current job?

A: In previous experiences I’ve come to realize that the retail industry wasn’t for me. I enjoy hospitality much more because it allows me to have personal interactions with the guest.

Q: How long have you been at Heirloom?

A: Altogether a little bit over a year.

Q: Do you have any pet peeves? For example, people who don’t even look at you when you talk to them or people who are on their cell phones when you’re trying to talk to them?

A: It would have to be just blatant rudeness. It’s unnecessary, but there’s nothing I can’t handle.

Q: Do you have a boyfriend? Any plans to get married?

A: No; not at the moment. And yes, I would love to get married.

Q: Do you even have time for a social life since you have to work nights and weekends?

A: Currently, no.

Q: How do you juggle school and work?

A: I study during the day. My days start at 6 a.m. Then I come to Heirloom in the afternoon, and if time allows, I study a little bit more before service.

Q: On a different issue, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

A: I would love to live in Italy, any part. Florence, Venice, Sicily, maybe because of my partial Sicilian origin.

Q: If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?

A: Actually, I just want to travel the world. And I also love to help people, maybe as a traveling nurse?

Q: What is your favorite movie of all time? Your favorite TV show of all time?

A: This is a tough one. I would say “Gone with the Wind.” And my favorite TV show would be “Game of Thrones.”