Title: Server/bartender at Itta Bena restaurant at B.B. King's Blues Club.
Hometown: Russia, near Moscow
What was your first food-related job? Ruby Tuesday (on) Winchester.
How did you get to be a server? I needed a job part time while I was going to college (University of Memphis). I needed some money. Everybody told me this is a good job if you like taking care of people. ... I did an interview with the manager and he said, "You seem like a good person. You smile a lot. ..." I said, "OK, yeah, I'll try it out." And I did and three months later they gave me permission to (be) bartender.
What makes a good server? They (guests) will be happy if you take good care of them.
Who's the biggest celebrity you've ever waited on? I met Norah Jones. Her dad is in a blues band, so he played downstairs and she did a special performance. They had ... cocktails and drinks after her dad played. … She's totally different from what you see on TV. She's so beautiful. She's really small. ... (Justin Timberlake) He seemed like a normal person just sitting at the bar, just eating food. ... I met John Stamos. ... When I came to America I watched Full House. He looks exactly the same. ... He was drinking vodka and Red Bulls.
Do you find yourself supercritical when you're being waited on in a restaurant or bar? I order a drink. I'm not impatient. I understand the server might be busy. ... But five minutes (later), "OK, what's going on?" Like after 10 minutes, I get critical. ... After 10 minutes you're not that busy to forget a table.
How much do you tip? I always tip 20 percent. ... And then if I'm at a bar and my friend's bartending, I usually tip them a little bit more because they'll make my drink stronger 'cause they know me.
What are some of your interests outside of working in a restaurant? I grew up in Russia, so I always played soccer, so I like soccer.
Itta Bena is on the third floor of B.B. King's Blues Club at 145 Second; 901-578-3031.