Easygoing and personable, Hershy tells us that it's the people part of the business that's got him hooked. People come to the restaurant to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or to grab a few drinks after a long day at work. They come around looking for a good time.
This isn't Hershy's first restaurant in Venice. He previously worked at an upscale restaurant on Abbot Kinney, so we asked him what makes the food culture in Venice so special.
"I believe our food culture on the West Side is driven by our clientele. They’re young, hip and they’ve got a lot of money. If the food is locally sourced, ethically harvested and socially responsible, they’re willing to pay more for it."
The world of food and food culture speaks a lot about the people and the place from which it blossoms, and LEONA is product of that. The team behind LEONA stays current with the style and trends of Venice while also aligning with the needs and wants of the community.
Hershy describes the clientele at LEONA as connected to and invested in their community. Hershy's team integrates this into the restaurant by hosting events such as beach cleanup days, participating in a local inter-restaurant soccer league, and #HashtagLunchbag (where they made and distributed lunchbags to local homeless people on the beach and pier).
The interconnectedness of LEONA and its community is reflected in the lively atmosphere of the restaurant on a busy night. Locals and neighbors excitedly return to share the weekly special with a new friend, to stop in and chat with Chef Nyesha, or to just have a glass of wine at the bar. Hershy makes it his duty to make everyone, visitors and locals alike, feel right at home once they step through the doors.
"I treat every table like they're a guest at my party. Pretend like it's a wedding; as you move around, every table must feel your presence and know that you want them there."
Just a block from the beach, LEONA is an exciting place to be. Hershy prides himself in reflecting the feel of the restaurant in his choice of attire every shift. While it's his job to pay attention and guide the guests' experiences, he notes that they're also paying attention.
"They appreciate the shirt you got from Scotch and Soda, or a haircut you got at Rudy’s Barbershop on Main Street. It’s a way to feel good about yourself while also showcasing the other businesses in your community."
While staying on top of the latest trends is an exciting and crucial part of the job, it's just as important for his style of dress to be practical and supportive. Hershy claims that shoes are everything in the restaurant industry. Without proper footwear to support 10-12 hour days, it's impossible to work efficiently. He admits that shoes are usually the hardest part of the outfit because they must have a balance between comfort, durability and utility.
The ideal restaurant shoe not is not only supportive and durable, but also must have premium non slip features to prevent dangerous slip and fall accidents. As a manager, Hershy has witnessed many accidents due to inappropriate footwear and actually requires his team to wear closed toed, non slip shoes. We asked if Hershy believed that a shoe could be both reliable and safe, while also meeting his style standards.
"Not since a good friend of mine shared Rhea Footwear shoes with me, did I think I could wear something as elegant and elevated in fashion and also serve me in both front and back of house duties. I don’t have to worry when walking back and forth out of the kitchen; I know I’m going to be safe and look good."
So the verdict is in and Hershy more than approves of our NeverSlip technology that is so brilliantly paired with a stylish and elegant design. In the heart of Venice, Hershy Petty and the team at LEONA push food culture forward by connecting people, sharing food and going above and beyond style standards.