Jean-Georges Vongerichten owns 11 restaurants in New York and 19 around the country and the globe. The guy who jets around the world launching his new restaurants, all while making sure the day-today operations of those restaurants are running smoothly—from teaching servers how to properly make a latte to instructing them on the seven essential napkin folds— is James Liakakos, VP of Operations.
Born and raised in a restaurant family in Long Island, Liakakos graduated from the Cornell Hotel School in 1999 and went to work with Daniel Boulud before joining the Jean-Georges group in 2003 as part of the management team at Mercer Kitchen. Since then he’s become Jean-Georges’ right-hand man, working to execute the JGV vision while ensuring quality of operations and financial performance. Andrea Strong spoke with him about reservations, faster dining, and how to get a guest to put down their phone and order.