Alice McGinty, general manager at June’s All Day, shares her tips for holiday hosting.
By Danielle Ransom, Photo courtesy of June’s All Day
Alice McGinty took her first foray into the restaurant industry at 14 years old, working as a busser. She grew up in a family that bonded over food, thus she felt it was natural to try her hand in the restaurant business. Thirteen years later, she’s worked her way through various positions with McGuire Moorman Hospitality group after getting her start at Austin’s Clark’s Oyster Bar.
Now, as the general manager at June’s All Day, she credits her staff for indulging her creativity as she’s moved up. Despite being a woman in a male-dominated industry, McGinty hasn’t found any setbacks preventing women from flourishing in the industry.
“I find Austin is really progressive in that way,” McGinty says. “I think the Women’s March is a good indicator of Austin’s openness to anybody succeeding in any industry.
In the last year at June’s, McGinty has made it her mission to make each and every guest feel special. McGinty understands what it takes to form and keep long-term relationships with guests, get her co-workers fired up and make sure everything goes according to plan. With the holidays right around the corner, Austin Woman sat down with McGinty to discuss tips for planning a holiday get-together.
- Never show up empty-handed. “If you’re a guest somewhere, never show up empty-handed, whether its store-bought cookies—it can be as minimal as that—or six tulips that you bought for $4.”
- Make people feel welcome. “[Small things] like remembering someone’s name, making eye contact and being genuinely enthused about someone’s presence can be really hard over the holidays because you’re meeting new faces all the time and you have to keep track of all that,” McGinty says. “But remembering someone’s name and just a little bit of something about them definitely helps establish [a connection], especially if you have in-laws or a new boyfriend or girlfriend.”
- Be calm, cool and collected. “Make sure things are prepped before people arrive so you’re not running around,” McGinty says. “You want [the atmosphere]to feel calm and collected when guests arrive. You may have two pies in the oven, music on and candles lit, but internally be freaking out. [For example], sometimes we open at 8 a.m. and get here at 7 a.m., so it is a bit of struggle to get everything ready, but at a minimum, we have lights, music, coffee brewed, tables are set and the chairs are out. So, someone walking in may not know there are some projects going on behind the scenes, but it feels good when they walk in.”
- Stay flexible and accommodate your guests if you can. “Try to be flexible [and]easygoing,” McGinty says. “Be prepared for the unexpected. Don’t have a strict no-shoes rule in your house because people are not going to be down with that. If people want something that you’re not offering, do what you can to make it happen for them. You definitely want to go the extra mile if you can, if it’s in your capability to do something. It’s going to give people the impression that you care about them.”
- Have entertainment, plenty of food and drinks ready. “You never want to run out food or wine,” McGinty says. “You never want that to be the impression or topic of conversation when people leave [and a]guest says, ‘Oh man, she only had two bottles of wine.’ Make sure you have a playlist and things ready to go like that. [You] never want those awkward lulls because conversation with even strangers should kind of evolve naturally. [Also], it’s always important to have a hot drink that you have in your pocket. Believe in what you’re serving and just be excited about it.”
- Give guests something they can remember the experience by. “It’s nice to have takeaways for your guests also,” McGinty says. “Have something they can keep in their pocket to remember how special their experience was, whether it’s a cookie or little book of matches that they grab on the way out the door. We try and offer our guests as many treats as possible if it’s their birthday, they’re going home to their family or it’s their anniversary. We always try to send them [out]with something sweet.”