Our best attribute is our employees
We are celebrating our twentieth anniversary next month so we are spotlighting a couple of the best, long-term, most-important-to-our-success employees in our Employee Spotlight. Last month it was long time kitchen general Randy Platt, this month I am stuck writing about another long-timer Dan Harrington.
Third times a charm
This is my third attempt at writing about Dan, the the problem is not that I have nothing nice to say about Dan, it’s that we have been friends since I started dating his little sister in 1985 and our pasts are so crossed I just don’t know where to start. What should I include or where I should draw the line? Should I mention all of the concerts and sporting events we have gone to together? Or the vacations to Spain, Martha’s Vineyard, Maine, the Caribbean and Canada to mention a few. Should I write that we owned a 2 family home together in Arlington for 20 years, Dan and his wife Nellie living on the first floor, Colleen and I on the second, only to move when Colleen and I had children and the apartment became too small? Do I need to write about the house in New Hampshire that we share along with Colleen’s other brother John? Or, how about that Dan married one of Colleen’s college room mates and my brother Dennis married the other? There are just too many great shared experiences, I have been struggling to narrow down my narrative. There is a book or two that could be written about our shared experiences.
The EVOO years
So here’s a few paragraphs about Dan as an employee at EVOO. 20 years plus ago I had the dream of opening my own restaurant, Dan was there supporting my dream from it’s inception, celebrating with me and my brother Steve in Granada, Spain, when I got the news from Colleen that the bank approved our restaurant loan. If I remember correctly, I was jumping on the bed with excitement while Dan and Steve where trying to sleep. From there Dan helped clean and organize our original location. Before deciding to quit his retail job and join the cool people at EVOO full-time, Dan worked at least a couple of shifts per week as a volunteer bartender, for the first 2 years we were open.
Dan worked as a waiter and bartender and in 2004, when I was stretched too thin, Dan took on the added responsibility of beverage geek. Dan writes and maintains the wine and beer lists, ordering and coordinating deliveries, often having to deal with the arduous task of tasting different beer and wines to pick just the right ones for our list. Dan does a really great job at this, we have an amazing wine list filled with interesting wines, many of which are organic and / or bio-dynamic. He curates our all local beer list with the expertise of a true beer geek. You can also always count on Dan to say a completely inappropriate joke at the completely appropriate time.
The party goes on outside of work
When Dan is not hanging around “tasting” (drinking) at EVOO he spends time with his wife Nellie (Karen) and their super sweet Newfoundland Rosie (Roosevelt). If Dan and Nellie are not at home in Cheslea, they are probably at a concert (they go to more concerts than anyone I know).
Dan and Nellie love spending time with (and without) family at their lake house in New Hampshire. Dan has earned the well deserved nickname of Puncle Danny because of how he always jokingly torments his nieces and nephews.
If it’s a Sunday in the fall, whatever Dan is doing revolves it around the Patriots Game. Dan has been a season ticket holder for at least 25 years. Going to every home game, where you would be hard pressed to find a better tailgate, always filled with too much amazing food and great friends.
Q&A with Steve Kurland
Steve Kurland, EVOO’s General Manager and Business Partner, once again took on the task of chasing down the spotlighted employee and relentlessly badgered them into answering his spotlight questions.
Why and when did you start working at EVOO? I wasn’t really given a choice! When Pete and Colleen were opening the restaurant in 1998, of course I wanted to help out. I worked for a year or so in a restaurant when I was in high school, and liked it, though it wasn’t the best restaurant. Once EVOO was open, I started as volunteer bartender 2 nights a week. That went on for a couple of years, until it became more difficult to balance 2 jobs, so I decided to choose the one I liked, and felt most invested in. Twenty years later, I guess I made the right choice.
How is it working with your family? It’s great; we disagree sometimes, because we’re all stubborn (myself less than the rest), but we’re kind of stuck with each other, and we all have the same ideals about what we want the restaurants to be. It also allows us to see each other more often, which is always a good thing.
How did you become the beverage director at EVOO and Za? I had started to like craft beer and wine, after being a Budweiser drinker when I was younger. Being around it when we opened EVOO piqued my interest even more, especially how food and wine go so well together. When Za Arlington opened, I became the beverage guy so that Peter wouldn’t have to deal with that too. I’m kind of an obsessive information junkie, so it was, “Yay, something else to learn about!” The best part is that the more you know, the more you realize there’s a lot to learn. Fortunately, the best way to learn is to taste.
What are your interests outside of work? Reading, writing and listening to music. Eating good food and drinking good wine. Hanging out in my favorite city, and hanging out in the woods in New Hampshire. Fighting my life-long battle trying to learn to play the guitar. Trying to have the best tailgate in Foxborough for the last twenty years.
Tell us about your pet: He’s a 110-pound Newfoundland named Roosevelt. He’s the best dog ever; it must be true, because I keep telling him that!
What was your first car? My first car that wasn’t a family hand-me-down was a 1983 Mazda RX-7 two-seater. I crammed four people into that thing on the way back from the Cape late one Saturday night. At least 10 of my friends learned to drive a stick on that car.
What’s the last great music show you attended? Walter Salas-Humera at Atwoods in Cambridge a few weeks ago. It’s a Tuesday night after work, drag a friend/co-worker along, drive over to the bar, pay $10 at the door, meet up with friends, making the total crowd about twenty, and watch a rock and roll legend tell a story about playing Letterman in 1990, and play with a great band of music lifers, including Josh Kantor, the Fenway Park organist.
EVOO’s twentieth anniversary is coming up in June. What about EVOO makes you excited when you come to work? I tend to think of the restaurant as our house, and all my co-workers are my family. I work, or have worked, with my best friends, some of the sharpest and funniest people I’ve ever met. The people that come in to dine are truly the guests in our home; we want them to be comfortable, leave happy, and want to come back. Some of those guests have become life-long friends too. I’m lucky that I’m happy when it’s time to go to work.
Next month we will hit the 20 year mark and Steve Kurland, wants to Spotlight Colleen and I, it should be interesting. I promised not to change anything, though I may need to add some addendums.