Fine Dining in San Diego

By on October 16, 2012
Fine Dining in San Diego
Donovan's San Diego

Donovan’s San Diego

When Tradition Matters


In a time of DIY everything, fast casual consumerism, and the next big trend, there is something to be said for tradition.  One place that tradition truly stands out in San Diego is Donovan’s Steak and Chop House in La Jolla and Donovan’s Prime Seafood, Downtown on 5th Avenue.  Donovan’s has revived a staple of the white tablecloth dining establishments of the past – the maître d’.  Think of it as fine dining in San Diego, Mad Men-style.

Many young people today may not even know what a maître d’s role is at a restaurant. The responsibilities of a maître d’ generally include supervising the wait staff, welcoming guests and assigning them to tables, taking reservations, and ensuring that guests are satisfied.  When we see fine dining restaurants in San Diego bringing back the art of fine dining with the maître d’, it’s refreshing.   It seems that in so many areas of our lives, “special” touches are being cut (need I remind you of meals on airlines which are now only a fleeting memory?).  It’s a breath of fresh air to see that not everyone is cutting corners and the days of ironed tablecloths, one-on-one attention and a fine appreciation for detail are back.

Who are these well-dressed men?  We talked to two of Donovan’s maître d’s to learn more about why they chose this unique field, what they find most rewarding and maybe even learn a tip or two.

Donovan’s Steak and Chop House – La Jolla

Maître d’: Victor Rivero

History: Born and raised in Mexico City, Victor Rivero has been working with the Donovan’s family of restaurants for the past 8 years. He studied to be an engineer, but discovered a passion for the restaurant industry that he couldn’t deny.

Special Touches:  Victor is constantly on the lookout for new ways to wow guests, and his favorite phrase to say every night before the start of dinner service is “Let’s make it happen!” Always there to capture a special moment, Rivero keeps a digital camera at his side through dinner service, offering to snap pictures of guests and email them copies the next day. Additionally, when children dine with their parents at the restaurant, he is sure to give them toys and puzzles to make their night fun as well – the parents are always appreciative!

Insider Tip:  Donovan’s Steak and Chop House loves to be part of special moments.  They once collaborated with a family where the mother hadn’t seen her daughter in many years.  They dressed the daughter as a “server” and she surprised her mom at dinner, which brought the room to tears.  Also, Donovan’s whole-heartedly supports those who serve overseas.  When making a reservation to honor someone in our military, be sure to let the manager know about the special guest and they will help make the evening even more special with a surprise or two.

Donovan’s Prime Seafood

Maitre d’: Jack Mecham

History: Jack Mecham has been with the Donovan’s family of restaurants for the past 11 years and has held positions such as bar manager, captain, and restaurant manager prior to accepting the role of maitre d’.

Special Touches:  Jack’s gift is his impressive ability to recall guest names.  He has been known to have a guest return after a year of absence and immediately greet them by name and remember the drink the guest had originally ordered – talk about wow factor!   An ex-Marine, Jack greets military guests to learn their rank and career background.  He even has a crystal plaques that he places on the dinner tables of Marines and Navy service members to honor those special guests.

Insider Tip:  Monday – Saturday from 4-6 pm, Donovan’s Prime Seafood offers a varying menu of complimentary fish tacos, salmon sliders and fish and chips.  Insiders know this is THE place to grab a delicious bite and a cocktail at the end of a gorgeous day in San Diego.

by Amy Ogden

About Jacqueline Maddison

Jacqueline Maddison is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Rancho Santa Fe Magazine. She believes in shining light on the best of the best in life. She welcomes you into the world of the ultimate luxury lifestyle.

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