This letter is from my original Facebook post...it was something I have felt for a long time and wanted to express. Working somewhere for ten years grows and changes you in ways you could never foresee. So grateful for my crew and my season of life at Canlis.
Here’s a copy of the letter I wrote and read to the team tonight. If you’re wondering what I’m doing next, it’s not much yet. Taking time off to figure life out, and hang with Gretchen and my lovely kids. Taking time to get on a normal schedule. Here is the letter:
“Starting at Canlis is many things at once. When you start, it’s like you’ve entered basic training, etiquette school, and a cult all at once. Sensations are new. Faces are happy and occasionally suspicious of the newcomer. Everyone wants you to succeed, however. It’s like learning to walk, talk and act again. There’s new rules to the game. If your first month was a montage scene in a movie, it would be crossfaded clips of table flipping, mise-ing, folding frette, late night talks, staff meals, and the many faces of guests-cranky, fun, friendly, old, young. At the end of the montage it’d show you leaving the restaurant later than almost everyone else because you were still trying to master that one skill.
Fast forward to ten years later. You’re the one training the new girl. You’re the one having the late night talk. You’re the actual last person out of the restaurant. You’ve become part of the furniture because you’ve been there so long. You catch falling Zaltos without looking at them. You ‘folda frette’ faster than anyone. You pour an unbroken stream of wine into a single guest’s glass while moving around the table to let the salad cart pass behind you. You don’t spill a drop. You recognize the Christo's in the bar and have their glasses polished and ready before they even order wine. Canlis becomes you. You become Canlis. You remember the ten year veterans that were there when you started. People who wore kimonos. People who served the Mastros. People who remember Saturday nights with 300 covers. You never thought that you'd be in that same, hallowed company. You got enlisted as a private and are leaving the force as a general.
Leaving is a choice. It marks an end and it heralds a beginning. Good things don't go on forever. That stellar meal with your spouse, that childhood night spent under the stars, that beach vacation: those are all things that live in your past, but they continue to transmit good feelings into your present and future. They shape your worldview and they inform your decisions. You keep them like treasures. They can't be taken away, and they often get stronger with time. But they have a definite start and finish. And when they're really good, you don't want them to end.
I love working at Canlis. It defines a big part of who I am. Working with great people who I'd want to go on a roadtrip with. Selling unforgettable wines. Making guests happy. Laughing at Mark and Brian's inappropriate Freudian slips.I have some available on request if you want to hear them.
I'm leaving because for all the great memories and identity I've enjoyed here, it's time to forge a new chapter in my life, and create something new. I'm going to miss what it means to work here. Striving for perfection, falling short, then getting ready to do it all over again. This place is a magnet for amazing people, and you are all going to grow immensely in your time here. Keep diving in, continue to assume the best of one another, and continue to honor our traditions while making new ones. Demand extremely high performance from yourself and from each other. I love you all, and love how you've pushed me to grow. Consider the promise kept.