Elliot Gunther

Elliot Gunther

Cassis American Brasserie

Individual Excellence in Customer Service

“People ask me all the time if this is just a job while I’m in school or to help pay bills and the answer is no. This is my life and my passion.”

I could not begin to write this entry without first and foremost acknowledging how thankful I am for this rare and special recognition. It is not everyday that I see such generosity towards others and especially directed towards me! Squaremouth has become a Santa Claus in the eyes of people that come into our restaurant inquiring about “Who” gave the the $1,000 tip. This effort has truly made the holidays brighter for not only myself, but my colleagues, who have also received this gift.

In effort to explain my “Journey” I guess I have to start with the basics. My name is Elliot Cameron Gunther and I am the General Manager of Cassis American Brasserie. I am 26 years old, born and raised in St. Petersburg Florida. I left St. Pete to attend college in Tallahassee, FL, where I first started in the hospitality business working in nightclubs, bars and major events around town. I returned home with a real passion for hospitality and understanding of what we call the “art” of customer service. I began working at Cassis just a few months after it opened it’s doors as a server, and quickly found myself taking on leadership roles that lead me to my position as General Manager for the past 3 years. Being 23 and running a restaurant was quite the undertaking and the most important job I’ve ever had. Under this roof I call my “Second Home” I’ve done a great deal of everything to better my knowledge of the business including serving, bartending, bussing tables, washing dishes, decorating, and even valeting. I’ve always gone off the thought that you must work like a soldier and lead like a general. I can’t say jumping into this position was always an easy one, but it’s always felt natural and right for me. An extensive part of our success comes from our proprietor Philippe Berriot and Executive Chef Jeremy Duclut. These two have given me the direction and know-how to build this great team and run this very large operation.

People ask me all the time if this is just a job while I’m in school or to help pay bills and the answer is no. This is my life and my passion. At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, I sit down at home reflecting on the interactions I had with people and when I can I go to sleep knowing that our restaurant made them have a special moment whether it be a quiet dinner alone, a first date, a family gathering, or a wedding reception… I can sleep peacefully. The biggest compliment is when our customers leave with a smile on their face, because then I know that I’ve done my job right. 

Since receiving the “tip” and recognition of good customer service, I’ve felt like the fortunate one among many deserving staff members at Cassis. This would’ve never been possible without having such a solid, tight-knit group working here. To have given me the $1,000 is like giving it to over 150 other employees because from our dishwashers, to our bakery staff, to every one of our line cooks, to our faces that serve people day in and day out, everyone assists me while I make sure we are going beyond expectations for our customers. I’ve had staff members that have worked here with me from my beginnings and we’ve stuck together through it all, and that means a great deal to me. I’ve had the opportunities to work with some amazing individuals that have made me a better person along the way. This staff has worked through the holidays as it usually does, with smiles on their faces while spending their Thanksgivings, Christmas Eves, and New Years celebrations with families that are not their own. I’ve always seen this to be the hardest part of working in the hospitality business for others as well as for myself. We cater to countless other companies holiday parties at Cassis and I believe that our staff deserves one of their own. The main idea of this campaign lead by Squaremouth is to give back to those giving great customer service and since I’ve succeeded in being recognized, I’d like to show my staff how thankful I am for their great customer service by using a portion of the $10,000 to throw them a holiday party. I’ve never seen a group of people that actually care for their customers the way we do. We build relationships with these people anywhere from a name-to-name basis, knowing their kids and pets, to celebrating engagements and good news with them. We’ve got a good thing going and I want them all to have something special to celebrate about this season. 

As for the rest of the money, I’d like to say I’m going to donate a portion to a charity I feel needs it the most, and put some towards my savings for future travel plans this year (sponsored by Squaremouth). For the past 3 years I’ve taken a journey to places that I’ve never imagined I could be. With just a backpack I’ve traveled through some of the most interesting places where I’ve learned so much. I don’t do it for leisure, I do it because we only have one chance on this earth and it’s a big one to explore. I get one vacation a year and I choose to spend it learning how the other half lives and it’s been a very humbling and eye opening experience every place I go.

So my journey continues as another exciting and major season is happening, and Cassis is seeing more and more new people everyday. Again, I want to thank Squaremouth for even thinking of this generous way of saying “Thanks” and for allowing us to share our journeys with you.

-Elliot Gunther