Why did you want to work at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel?
Dean: It was the 80s and the Love Boat was my favorite show on television. I loved the character, Gopher, and what he did as a steward on the boat. It looked like he had the best job in the world. So when a friend said I should apply, I looked at all of the positions that were available and I saw “stewarding.” I was so excited; I filled out an application. When I went for my interview, I met with a gentleman in a white lab coat. I remember thinking it was a little odd, but the hotel was still under construction so maybe that was just what they wore. He took me on a tour and showed me the dishwashing machine. I thought “how nice for him to show me so much of the details.” It was then that I realized what stewarding really was. It didn’t matter; I still wanted to work at the hotel.
How long were you in stewarding?
Dean: I was there for seven months. At the time, Mr. Humler was the director of food & beverage and I transferred into The Café, which was our three meal a day restaurant. I have worked in almost every restaurant the hotel has had, including room service. I think the only restaurant I haven’t worked in is The Pool Café.
Many of our guests know you because of your signature personalization with a rose. Tell us how that came to be?
Dean: I was a server in The Club Grill, which was a dinner dance club that was extremely popular with guests and the local neighbors. There was a live band, a drum machine and even a disco ball. There were always large bouquets of fresh roses on display. They would put new roses out every night so they were always pristine. The roses that were being replaced were still beautiful and they used to sit in a bucket behind the restaurant. One day, I decided to hand them out. The restaurant was busy and sometimes guests had to wait for a table so I would present the lady with one of these roses and they would forget about the time. It just took off from there and became something I did every night. Thirty years later and I am still presenting roses. It’s truly embodies what Ritz-Carlton is and provides guests with a signature moment. I hope that by doing this, I have created a few guests for life.
What’s one of your signature moments?
Dean: When it was announced that The Club Grill was going to close, all of these long time guests came in for dinner so that I could wait on them one last time. It was so touching to know that I had made such an impression on so many people. One guests, a noteworthy music producer, even presented me with a plaque, thanking me for all that I had done over the years in making The Club Grill such a special place for him to visit.
What keeps you here?
Dean: Through the Gold Standards, I am empowered every day to create guests for life.