"Its been colorful. It's been painful. But I made it through..."

EricV 6

My story

My name is Eric Valdivieso.

I was probably the highest paid restaurant server on the planet. And, I achieved this, with a deliberate single-minded strategy,

Over-delivering for my guests.

Treating them like royalty, making them feel a million dollars – and making them feel happy…

…giving them more than they were expecting. Much more.

They tipped me big. And still do. What’s more, they tell their friends and they tell theirs.

My employers saw significant and consistent growth – and my income rose as a result.

Prior to the restaurant business, I worked in the hotel sector, joining Marriott at the World Trade Center in 1996 as a busboy. Within six months of doing that job, I was promoted to Bellman – front of house.

I made a little over $100,000 in that year, which was the equivalent of half a million dollars today.

I was just 22 years old.

I bought my dream car: a vintage 1968 Porsche 911s. And started buying investment homes too.

Then, September 11th happened and my world exploded. I became a Mortgage broker, just before mortgage meltdown. The real estate bubble burst, business dried up, home values went down and I couldn’t sell the investment properties I owned, so I used-up all of my savings to try and keep them afloat – but I lost them all to foreclosure anyway.

I had a nervous breakdown and went to the hospital on March 2, 2008, a day after my 32nd birthday. In just over a year later, I was completely broke.

I went back to restaurants and it saved me.

I loved my time serving people and making friends in the process.

I knew I needed that buzz again, to rebuild my life. It did.

Helping families and friends have a great time, celebrating holidays, birthdays and other events, made me feel so good.

I never looked at being a server as just a simple act of taking someone’s order. I felt my job was to improve morale. Both of my team – and my guests.

Improving people’s lives, helped me get mine back on track.


Jonathan Tisch

CEO Loews Hotels & Co-Owner of the New York Giants

“Over the last few years, my family and I have had the pleasure to watch and enjoy, as Eric Valdivieso, nightly deliver a dining experience that is truly enjoyable. From the moment that we are welcomed by Eric at the door, to sitting at the bar and enjoying the suggestions and company to an amazing dinner, it is always one of our favorite nights. And Eric graciously and seamlessly choreographs this entire experience, without breaking a sweat. Eric truly understands hospitality, and what makes a great restaurant so great.”