These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to email@example.com.
Piers Smyth was recently hired as the director of restaurants & beverage for theWit Hotel.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?
Continuing to elevate and expand upon the personal connection between product and consumer is something that I always look forward to. We aim to offer an experience, not just a transaction. At theWit, we are fortunate to have some of the rarest and most exclusive spirits in the world, and being able to curate an experience that most of the world will never have is something that I will always enjoy. People entrust us with their engagements, weddings, and numerous other forms of celebration and life achievements, and it is very important for me to deliver on their behalf.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
I have been in the hospitality industry for a long time and have had the good fortune to work alongside a lot of very talented people in various departments. I have had a lot of successes as well as some failures and have learned from each equally. I have been a part of several hotel openings, and every one of them came with a new set of challenges and opportunities that have given me a great perspective of how to address various situations. I have also benefited greatly by having a talented mentor and many accomplished and skilled friends in the industry that continue to support and inspire me.
3. How did you get into the industry?
I grew up in Savannah, Georgia and was exposed to southern hospitality at a very young age. Though neither of my parents was southern, we hosted parties often, and I saw the importance of service and making everyone feel welcome. I never intended for the service industry to ultimately be my career and went on to double major in architecture and industrial design at SCAD, which is when I first began working in bars. Though very outgoing among friends, I was painfully shy when it came to meeting new people. All of that changed when I stepped behind the bar, and I fell in love with entertaining guests and the camaraderie of the industry. I continued on to move to Chicago and start my own design firm with a fellow SCAD alum, but I couldn't part from the industry and ultimately knew that my career was meant to be hospitality.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
Nightlife and entertainment have and will always be a part of ROOF, and I want to highlight the progression in culinary and beverage offerings and execution that have taken place at theWit. Both ROOF and State & Lake Chicago Tavern are offering a better program than ever before, and I am excited to share that with the world.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
The service industry is truly unique. We experience all types of people in every mood you can imagine. We see people at their highest and sometimes at their lowest; people will entrust a secret or personal story or experience with a bartender/server/etc. that they would never tell even their best friend. People come to us for comfort, to celebrate, to distract. It truly gives a unique perspective into people’s lives, and I enjoy that. I also love that hospitality continues to be recognized as a legitimate career and hate that it was ever questioned. It's hard work and can be greatly rewarding, but it will also take everything that you are willing to give it, so I am glad to see that the leaders in the Chicago service industry are acknowledging the problems that exist and continuing to push the industry forward.