You probably have seen Danielle Fox of Lancaster working somewhere in the area. Though only 28, she has had many jobs. Her first job was at John and Mary’s pizzeria in Alden. She has worked the McDonald’s drive-thru. She also has delivered pizzas.
For the past four years, Fox has worked in the hospitality industry as cloak room clerk, housekeeper, banquet manager and hostess. As assistant manager of Russell’s Steaks Chops & More and Salvatore’s Grand Hotel, Fox displays a work ethic as powerful as her smile.
People Talk: To whom do you attribute your strong work ethic?
Danielle Fox: I was raised by a single parent, and my father was a hard worker, too. But my mom, she taught me well. She worked full time and took care of three kids. She picked up part-time jobs at night, too.
PT: What was your first job after high school?
DF: I actually dropped out, and I got my GED. I worked down the street at Garden Place Hotel as a housekeeper and at the front desk. I worked for Largo Real Estate Advisors, but [the job] wasn’t really for me.
PT: Why did you drop out of high school?
DF: I think I grew up too fast. I felt like high school was too immature – all the drama. I just wanted to get out of there. I dropped out the beginning of my junior year. I got my GED before my class graduated. My first job, I worked for a pizzeria as a slinger, dropping off menus at businesses. And I organized my friend’s office. It was a hot mess.
PT: What about college?
DF: I went to Trocaire College, where I got my two-year degree in hospitality, but the good thing about working with Mr. Salvatore is that I was able to bring a lot to the classroom, as well.
PT: You never worked as a waitress?
DF: To be a server here, I’d be scared. I know how strict Russ is, and I know that I do not want to get yelled at. I don’t say that in a bad way. He’s a great mentor.
PT: What have you learned from him?
DF: Something his dad always told him, that you don’t have to have an education to be nice. He says that all the time.
PT: What percentage of your time do you spend on coat check?
DF: Twenty five percent. Checking coats is important. It’s the first person you see after you walk in [the restaurant].
PT: Why should people check their coats?
DF: Mr. Salvatore is a stickler about people checking their coats. To us, it’s proper dining etiquette. You don’t want coats hanging over the back of the chair. It just wouldn’t look right. There are safety issues, and it’s a courtesy for people. We do get a lot of people who walk right past us. Mr. Salvatore will tell them coats are not allowed in his dining room. If you don’t hang it, you have to wear it.
PT: What can you tell about a person by the coat he wears?
DF: I don’t really judge people.
PT: What was your attraction to the food service industry?
DF: I fell into it and I love it. I love people. I love seeing them smile. I don’t like seeing them have a bad day. You know the saying? I try to turn the frown upside down.
PT: What will you be doing in 10 years?
DF: I guess maybe in the future – I’m not one to have a one-year plan or a five-year plan; I live day to day – I’ll think about traveling. Like working on a cruise ship, maybe as a housekeeper.
PT: As executive housekeeper what do you do?
DF: I’m in charge of the linen order, going through the rooms to make sure everything is taken care of top to bottom. On my days off, if a few girls call off, I would come in.
PT: What kind of a boss are you?
DF: Easygoing. Our girls only get seven to eight rooms. That’s low. I had 10 housekeepers come here to apply, and they told me they had anywhere from 14 to 28 rooms. We give our girls 45 to 50 minutes for checkouts. Stay-overs are different. We’re not allowed to touch personal items. We dust around them. Lamp shades need to be dusted every day. I’m picky. When you’re heart’s in what you do, you notice things like that.
PT: Your rooms are 100 percent nonsmoking. How do you monitor that?
DF: They leave evidence. We just had one the other day who left cigarette butts in a Tim Horton’s coffee cup. We strip the room – all the bedding, and we put an ionizer in the room to purify the air. Depending on how bad it is, the occupant can be penalized. It’s a $100 fee. That and rose petals. We don’t mind fake ones but the real ones – especially if they’re red – and they’re on the floor in a trail to the bed. Somebody steps on them, and they get crushed into the carpet.
PT: Rose petals?
DF: Yes, if they want a romantic little night. Rose petals will lead right to the bed, sometimes all over the bed. We don’t allow that, either. Fake ones we can sweep up and they don’t stain. I think they have fake scented rose petals.