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

by Caroline Hatchett
April 2015

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?
NL:
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?
NL:
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?
NL:
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?
NL:
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?
NL:
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.