Photo: Jeff Sciortino

A Carlean Higgins

Leña Brava

“Once a guy in a suit told me before his guest showed up that he was gonna lean on me because he had no knowledge of upscale Mexican. I said, ‘Relax, I’m gonna make us both look good.’ I like when people come back and remember me—I remember everything they like to eat and drink.”

B Tory Davis


“I make horrible, lame jokes to my tables. But that’s also what makes me endearing to them. Sometimes when I’m clearing plates, if they say, ‘That was good,’ I’ll say, ‘Thank you! Because you’re being so nice, I’ll keep bringing you food.’ That usually gets a giggle.”

C Giuseppe Calderone


“I grew up in a large Sicilian family. I was the table-setter and did dishes with my grandma. I used to have an Easy-Bake Oven and would play fake restaurant. You could say I parlayed that into a career.”

D Dani Spillane


“With my raspy voice and my tattoos, I’m like an icebreaker. Sometimes people feel like they can get a little inappropriate with me, but I’m such a ball buster, I’ll give it back to them. Like ‘Oh, do you want to arm wrestle, buddy?’ They always enjoy it.”