Wine Director Karen Ann King of Union Square Café - Biography

New York , NY

November 2011

Karen Ann King started working in restaurants as a college student in Nashville, Tennessee. After receiving her Bachelor's degree in Social Sciences, she taught elementary school in Boston and moonlighted at night as a waitress. She later moved to New York City to pursue an acting career, but after a year decided that acting was not for her. Having fallen in love with New York, she stayed to work in the restaurant business. Karen has devoted herself to Union Square Cafe since it opened in 1985. She began as a server, moved on to bar manager, and in 1995 became wine director, responsible for Union Square Cafe's award-winning wine list.

Union Square Cafe was honored as the Perrier Outstanding Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation in 1997, and has reigned as New York's favorite restaurant in the 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 Zagat Surveys. A major part of the restaurant's success is its wine program, which Karen has advanced in part by holding staff wine tastings every three weeks. One of her favorite activities is giving wine classes, which she has taught at New York University and for the Sommelier Society of America. Karen is known for her very personable yet knowledgeable approach to wine service. In 1998, Union Square Cafe was one of five restaurants in the United States nominated by the James Beard Foundation for best wine service. In 1999, Union Square Cafe won the Hudson Valley Foie Gras Outstanding Wine Service Award from the James Beard Foundation.