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Wendy Gruntz, born in 1971, grew up in Algiers Point, just a ferry ride away from the attractions of the French Quarter. Gruntz did not plan on beginning a career as a server when she graduated from Dominican High School in 1989; it was a path that found her. She started her career as a server at a Shoney’s in the working-class suburb of Chalmette. It was easy to make money back then if you put a little hustle into it, she remembered, even at the Shoney’s price point where she might take care of as many as twelve tables at any given time.
Gruntz left Shoney’s in 1993 to work at Outback Steakhouse, an experience that she characterized as less than ideal, with management techniques that diminished the value of the individual server. When she came to Pascal’s Manale in 1995, she knew that she had found a home. A steady and friendly clientele, a management plan that respects the servers, and a reliable kitchen all contribute to equanimity in the front of the house.