2015 Boston Rising Star Community Bartender Naomi Levy of Eastern Standard

2015 Boston Rising Star Community Bartender Naomi Levy of Eastern Standard
March 2015

Eastern Standard
518 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215



When a path leads from Ruby Tuesday to venerable brasserie, it usually has to do with the person. And that much is true in the story of Naomi Levy, who started working in restaurants, at a Ruby Tuesday, at just 17. But even then she was old enough to know that she wanted a career set to the rhythm and pacing of the industry.

Levy found herself especially drawn to what was going on behind the bar, and over the next few years, continued to learn and challenge herself, working at casual restaurants, beer bars, and in catering. At Hungry Mother, Levy was part of the opening team, and she stayed on for two years, helping the restaurant achieve national acclaim. But in 2010, when Levy was tapped to work as a bartender at Eastern Standard, she found her cocktail home.

Eastern Standard not only gives Levy a forum for her mixing skills, it’s also an outlet for her deeply rooted hospitality, a desire to make people smile that drives her—and shows up in her drinks. At the top of her class in BarSmarts, Levy remains passionate about education and community building. She is a member of the United States Bartender’s Guild, completed the Beverage Alcohol Resource BAR 5-day, served as a Tales of the Cocktail apprentice, and judges cocktail competitions.

Interview with Boston Rising Star Community Bartender Naomi Levy of Eastern Standard

Caroline Hatchett: How did you get your start?
Naomi Levy:
I’ve been in restaurants since I was 17. I graduated a year early and started applying early. I wanted to work at Pearl Art and Craft Supply, but I walked into Ruby Tuesday and met Lois the bartender, who hazed me even before I started. I got the job and served until I turned 18, then went behind the bar. Then art school killed my art drive and I fell into this industry, which I happen to love.

CH: How do you get inspired?
My love of restaurants started with my love of food. When I’m inspired flavor wise, I’m inspired by something I’m eating. I have a good relationship with the chef here. I love to cook, but would never cut it in the kitchen. 

CH: Who is your mentor?
Jackson Cannon; Kevin Martin, my previous bar manager; Nicole Lebedovich, who used to work here, then became general manager of Hawthorne; John Kessen, one of the owners of Hungry Mother, he made me the detail-oriented person I am today. 

CH: How do you train your staff?
The training process here is intense. I make sure everyone gets cross-trained with the hostess and food service. The training period lasts two to three weeks, and everyone starts on day shifts. On a busy night, we’ll have four bartenders behind the bar and customers three or four deep. What we do here is special, and to put out high caliber cocktails, you have to be prepared.

CH: How are you involved in the local culinary community?
I’m a member of United States Bartenders’ Guild. I try to get together with bartenders and chat. I used to co-run the Boston Bartenders Collaborative—we started as fresh bartenders and now we all either run bars or do other things. I love the education side of what we do. I did the Beverage Alcohol Resource BAR 5-day this year and served as a Tales of the Cocktail apprentice in 2012. I’ve been involved in competitions as well. Now, I’m judging the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition, as last year’s winner. 

CH: Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’d like to build my own bar program from the ground up—not necessarily ownership—but take the lessons I’ve learned here and take on an existing bar program. It would have to be the right place, in Boston or the surrounding area.