Erica James

Erica James

Erica James, General Manager of Momotaro and the Izakaya in Chicago, IL, shares her career timeline and words of advice for up-and-coming professionals.

The best piece of advice I have received is, "don’t forget to have fun." It’s a lesson I’ve learned since working with Boka Restaurant Group. It is so easy to get lost in the intensity of the shift and obsessively focus on every detail of service. However, if no one in the front or back of the house is having a good time, it creates an energy that the guests can feel.

When hiring, I look for authenticity. That moment in an interview when a candidate shows me their true self, rather than their interview persona. I love to see candidates laugh too loudly at their own jokes, share a very personal story, or get too real when we talk about their “areas for improvement.” That is when interviews get exciting and both of us can then decide if the restaurant is a good fit. Remember, great candidates are also interviewing you.
In this industry, we are continually creating and developing relationships, so having the ability to communicate with empathy and respect for others are important skills to have to succeed in this industry. It’s an on-going process that doesn’t seem to get easier, just more rewarding.
I couldn't do this job without my talented, unique, inclusive team. Maybe I could work around that, but I wouldn’t want to.
The job that has the largest impact on my career was my first job right out of college. I started hosting with a young and growing hospitality group in DC. The opportunities felt limitless, and I was learning every day. The restaurant was busy, sexy, and fun. That’s where my love of the industry all started.
A healthy work/life balance is a work in progress for me. I love my job, but I also love self-care (I’m a Taurus, we can’t help it). Right now, I’m working on appreciating the small moments of balance and trying to remove my self-imposed pressure.

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.

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