Nathan Carraway wears many hats — and on occasion, a dapper vest.
As Director of Events for a trio of Bon Appétit Management Company’s Northern California public restaurants — Public House and STEM Kitchen & Garden in San Francisco, and Foundry & Lux in South San Francisco — Nathan is responsible for overseeing upwards of 750 events each year, from intimate family celebrations and corporate board meetings to large-scale weddings and product launches. Not only does he have a knack for producing stellar events down to the tiniest detail, he has a keen marketing eye that helps drive revenue-generating initiatives across the restaurants.
Nathan’s Bon Appétit journey began in 2005 when he answered a Craigslist ad for a catering bartender. Within his first year with the company, Nathan was promoted to beverage manager at his account; shortly thereafter he rose to front-of-house manager for events including exhibition openings, weddings, and fundraisers.
In 2008, Nathan joined the team at San Francisco’s Oracle Park (home of the San Francisco Giants, then-AT&T Park) as a catering supervisor overseeing events throughout the park, including the club level and suites. For three years he maintained the high level of hospitality expected in the ballpark before becoming floor manager for the adjoining public restaurant, Public House. In 2011, now District Manager Alison Harper joined the Public House team and took note of Nathan’s innate relationship-building skills and interest in events.
“Every day is different, with its own unique challenges. But that’s what makes it so exciting. I may be drafting proposals for big clients in the morning and overseeing a wedding in the afternoon…”
“Nathan distinguished himself immediately by being willing to do whatever needed to be done,” recounts Alison. “He has a ‘yes’ mentality with a head for business and a fantastic rapport with clients, which make him perfect for managing events.”
Alison put Nathan in charge of running all private events for Public House. As the number of public restaurants in the district grew, so too did Nathan’s role. With the opening of STEM Kitchen & Garden in November of 2014, followed by Foundry & Lux in the fall of 2016, Nathan’s position became districtwide. With each opening, Nathan created and launched an in-house events program designed to capitalize on the restaurant’s distinct features.
“Every day is different with its own unique challenges,” Nathan acknowledges. “But that’s what makes it so exciting. I may be drafting proposals for big clients in the morning and overseeing a wedding in the afternoon one day, then consulting with our chefs on menu costs and add-ons, then sourcing new compostable serviceware suppliers the next.”
Nathan thinks creatively about the use of space and how to draw guests into it. At STEM, he noticed a trend of last-minute event requests that were more casual than the existing catered event structure could easily accommodate. Knowing the culinary team could manage set menus for smaller groups on short notice, he launched STEM’s “impromptu” events program, using a per person prix fixe cost that allows groups to book events like a work happy hour or last-minute meeting on only 24 hours’ notice.
Nathan is a master of hospitality: When he’s not tackling the myriad events responsibilities, he’s pitching in on the floor of the restaurants, touching tables, and ensuring guests are having a positive experience. “He’s so much more than an events director,” says Alison. “His enthusiasm for going above and beyond is what makes him so successful. He truly exemplifies the soul of Bon Appétit.”