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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

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ORAL HISTORY

Mickey Bakst


Mickey Bakst, born in 1952, was raised in Detroit, Michigan. He moved to Newport Beach, California, in the early 1970s. A friend needed someone to check IDs at his club, The Studio Cafe. Bakst volunteered. The restaurant captivated him. In 1974, he became a partner in The Studio Cafe. In 1982, Bakst suffered a drug overdose. He moved back to Detroit to recover and commit to sobriety. While living in Detroit, Bakst educated himself about fine dining, working as a waiter and in other front of house positions.

In 1986, Bakst started running the front of house at Tapawingo, a rural fine dining restaurant in Ellsworth, Michigan. His staff consisted of dairy farmers, teachers, and other Ellsworth residents.  In 1993, Bakst left Tapawingo to help create Tribute, a fine dining restaurant in the Detroit area. He worked there until 2003. In 2004, Bakst took a job as the maitre d’ hôtel at the Charleston Grill in Charleston, South Carolina. His commitment to hospitality has earned him the title “unofficial mayor of Charleston.”

Date of interview:
2019-08-08

Interviewer:
Annemarie Anderson

Photographer:
Grace Beahm Alford

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