The 2014 Chiavaris: Employee Appreciation at Social Tables

This post was written by Social Tables’ Manager, Communications, Claire Harrington, CMP.


Commitment to employee development and appreciation has always been one of the most important objectives to the leadership at Social Tables. We consider ourselves first and foremost a family, going so far as to include, “Teams are Families” in our core values. We work at an incredible pace and with incredible focus each and every day, but we carve out a celebration once a year to recognize our success and personal achievements.

We call this day, “The Chiavaris”.

pic2 2What is a chiavari, and why do we dedicate our employee appreciation day to it? A chiavari is the crème de la crème of seating – an elegant, detailed structure that is found only at the finest events. As a company that works very closely with the hospitality industry, we knew that using this as the visual for our employee appreciation showed that we put our coworkers on the highest pedestal, where we believe they should be recognized.

When CEO Dan Berger founded Social Tables in 2011, it was a one-man show. In his opening remarks, Dan reminded the crowd of now 40 employees (and their significant others) that, “3 years ago there was no company. 2 years ago we had no customers. 1 year ago we had no home. Today, we are a formidable force in hospitality that is revered locally and respected globally.”

Each and every person contributes to the success of our organization every day through their hard work, enthusiasm and commitment – not only to the future of this company, but also to one another. “The Chiavaris are a time to reflect on and celebrate our accomplishments over the last 12 months. Saying we’ve worked hard is an understatement”, noted Dan.

pic3 2This wasn’t just an average party – it was a strategic celebration of our strengths as colleagues and friends. “As a company, we put lots of thought into our goals, objectives, and key results. Going into the Chiavaris we knew we wanted to celebrate the past and continue to look to the future,” said committee member DJ Bruggemann. “By taking an afternoon to bring all of our current (and a few future) employees together, we recognized everyone for their hard work and dedication in helping Social Tables grow. We also got the chance to cut loose and create some new memories in a more social environment.”

In order to achieve those goals, the Planning Committee knew that this wasn’t an event to be thrown together at the last minute. “Beginning 8 weeks before the big day, we met weekly to discuss the schedule of events,” noted committee member Cerys Brown. “We began by creating an outline of how the event would look, feel, sound, etc. Then, we arrived upon a theme, and began to divide and conquer each of the tasks at hand.”

This year’s theme? A Social Tables Siesta Fiesta!

pic1 2“We chose this theme as an opportunity to celebrate, while also taking a break to celebrate our team’s success,” notes Ram Parimi, Planning Committee member. As such, “the menu and location had to match our theme and objectives. “I reached out to Reed Landry and Fritz Brogan, who are DC entrepreneurs in the restaurant/bar scene to reserve Mission, one of DC’s most talked about new Mexican restaurants and bars. After doing a full walkthrough of the space, we found that their outdoor patio was perfect for the reception, and their upstairs bar would give us the privacy we needed to do the awards show, followed by the infamous superlative designations.”

You may be thinking – what do you mean – infamous superlatives? Every year at the Chiavaris, each employee is bestowed with a personal superlative that the planning committee creates. Once distributed, these are hung near employee desks – or placed on mantels – as a sign of recognition of their individuality. Julie Giffin, a member of the Planning Committee said, “For an average company, the process of creating a unique personal superlative for each member of a 30+ person team would not be an easy task. Luckily for us, our team is not so average. The planning committee was able to sit down as a group and run through each employee’s name one at a time, embarking on a journey of anecdotes as we tried to capture the essence of each of our friends. Some were easy (Best Dressed) and some were less traditional – (Most likely to co-author a blog post with a Sherpa atop Mt. Kilimanjaro). The end result was a room full of laughter – our idea of success!”

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 3.41.34 PMWhile the superlative designations are the most entertaining portion of the show, the awards ceremony is the moment in which individual employees are recognized for their incredible contributions to the team. “Throughout the program we celebrated each of our core values with an award,” said Berger. “These core values guide everything we do, so it’s important to align them to the awards ceremony.” The highest award bestowed is that of the Chiavari itself, which is given to the member of the team who has grown with and contributed the most to the company as a whole. This year’s uncontested winner was our newly minted-CMO, Trevor Lynn!

Please join us in recognizing the incredible team that we have here at Social Tables by reviewing the list of award winners below!

  • The Hospitality Award (This award goes to an employee who consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty to serve our customers) – Customer Success Team for onboarding the entire Hyatt North America Hotel portfolio in six weeks.
  • Professional Development Award (This award goes to the person who has grown the most on the job) – Sarah Ghessie for managing the operations of our entire company pretty much all by herself.
  • The Skinny (This award goes to the person who has most embodied our cultural pillar of “Stay Lean”) – Justin Blau for his contribution to and overhaul of the Snack Committee
  • The Biggie (This award goes to the person who is a rising star at Social Tables who just thinks the sky is the limit and has been here less than a year) – Darryl Sharp
  • Sales Team MVP (This award goes to the Sales Team’s most valuable player in terms of customer outreach, revenue generated and deals closed) – Jesse Oursler for consistently beating the company’s records in sales (record that he himself set).
  • The Ritz Carlton (This award goes to the team that consistently delivers the highest level of service) – Product Team for Table and Buffet Designer
  • The Collaboration Award (This award goes to a team that worked together to deliver something extraordinary for the business) – Ray Miller & Brittney Bernstein
  • Get Shit Done (The GSD award goes to the person who consistently gets things done on-time and without b.s) – Ray Miller
  • Certified Social Tables Event Planner(s) (The CSTEP goes to the person(s) who created and executed the most memorable, well-delivered event of the year for the company) – Sarah Ghessie & Claire Harrington for Parents Weekend
  • Best Engineering Feat (This award goes to an Engineer who built an amazing feature) – Matthew Whittemore for On-Site
  • The Ninja (The award goes to the person who is stealthy in their delivery, and who you don’t even know is there until they deliver an epic result, which you weren’t even aware they were working on) – Alex Parent
  • Coach of the Year (This award goes to the person who has offered their time, insight and attention to the team, and whose direction has allowed each teammate to grow exponentially) – Dan Berger
  • The Chiavari (This award goes to the team member who embodies our 5 cultural pillars – Fail Fast & Often, High Risk / High Reward, Innovation, ‘Yes If’ Instead of ‘No Because’, and Ship all Day / Party All Night) – Trevor Lynn

The day was a success that ended with jumbo slices of pizza, the talk of Social Tables tattoos, and an all around appreciation for our family of colleagues. Thank you for sharing in our excitement and admiration of our teammates!

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