Welcome back to Front and Center: a week-long series dedicated to highlighting excellent Front of House staff. This entry is from Teresa Byrne-Dodge. She is the publisher of My Table Magazine, a bimonthly that "offers readers the most complete information on the restaurants, chefs, shops, foods, trends, caterers, festivals and personalities that make up the city's lively culinary scene."
Chef/owner John and Violeta Sheely run a very tight organization at their Mockingbird Bistro. The kitchen is accommodating, the bar service is excellent and the waitstaff are top notch. And within the ranks of waitstaff there, our favorite waiter is Hector Andrade. I can't say how long he's been there, but it seems like he's never not been there. For me, Hector is Mockingbird Bistro as much as John and Violeta are.
With his chiseled features and sleek haircut, he looks like a Mexican movie star, and he has a certain air that suggests pride of person. He's not the kind of waiter to give your shoulder a squeeze.
Does he treat us like family? Emphatically no. Hector treats us like valued guests. His professionalism is warm, but it's still professional. We are always "Ms. Byrne-Dodge" and "Mr. Ansari," and never, ever "you guys." He asks about our kids sometimes, occasionally imparts a bit about himself (though rarely), but there's never chitchat.
From the moment we sit down and he drapes a black napkin across my lap (and snatches away the default white napkin that the tables are set with) until we stand and all shake hands at the end of the meal, dinner under Hector's care is 120 minutes of fine-tuned choreography. He remembers our cocktail quirks (I like to sometimes start with a dirty martini made with Tanqueray 10) and our food preferences (we often split the steak frites). That's why we come to Mockingbird when we have something to celebrate ... and why we come here when the world has been a tough SOB and we just want someone to take care of us.