The Work We Do: Tanya McDowell, CJ’s American Grill

My name is Tanya McDowell. I have been with CJ’s American Grill for just a little over two years now. I am here as the manager of the restaurant.

If you come in in the morning, you have to prep, cut your fruits and vegetables, make your iced tea. We order our linens. We have to set up the dining room, set up for dinner. We greet the customers. There’s scheduling, a lot of that I have to do. I have to take inventory too. If we’re running low on something you have to put it down to be ordered for the next day. We also sit down with the chef and find out what we’d like to have for that day. 

My favorite part is the customers. Seeing our regulars all the time, building a relationship with them. A lot of our customers at Christmas time, if they’re bar patrons, a lot of them have their own glasses here with their names engraved on it for them. We enjoy our locals and regulars. Most of them become family to us. We have a lovely couple who that comes in every Sunday and we have a plaque for them. It’s their table. 

I really like how we strive here to keep everything farm-to-table. We make all of our own homemade potato chips. We make our own soups on a daily basis.

Along with the restaurant, we do a lot of catering too. We do christenings, rehearsal dinners and a lot of weddings. That is a completely team effort on all levels to make sure that goes off without a hitch.

I have been in the restaurant industry for about 18 years now. I’ve definitely worked at a few of the local restaurants around here and I really like it. It’s something that I enjoy doing. I like the customer service part of it and I like to make people happy.

I like to see them when they leave with a smile and say “see you again soon,” and you know they’re coming back next week to hang out with you, have another cocktail or another bite to eat.

“The Work We Do” is a Suffolk Times multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. It is made possible by Peconic Landing in Greenport. See photos on Instagram @thesuffolktimes.