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WATCH: Nick Kokonas on Hospitality, Being Different, and His Relationship with Grant Achatz

“I am not in hospitality,” former stockbroker Nick Kokonas admitted to a crowd of hospitality professionals at last month’s The Welcome Conference. “However, I do know how it’s supposed to work, because most of it we made up.”

That’s because he also happens to be Grant Achatz’s business partner, and that doesn’t mean he’s just the guy with the money. In his talk, he describes his shifting roles at Alinea, where he’ll do anything from busing tables to booking reservations and, occasionally, serving as Grant’s “chef psychologist.”

Acknowledging that he really had no idea what he was getting into when he first proposed a partnership with Achatz in 2012, Kokonas said that his neophyte status gave him and Achatz an advantage: they would question everything, from the reservations system, to even the idea of tablecloths. (Tablecloths, they both agreed, were just coverups for poorly-made tables.)

[h/t Eater]

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