Photography: LaQuann Dawson
Before Portland born Kendra Hada entered the service industry, she had spent nearly a decade of her life training as a dancer and classical pianist. As she grew older, so too did her desire to see what else was out there and so she took the rigorous work ethic she had spent years honing in the performing arts and tried her hand at hospitality. She landed her first job at a cafe in Atlanta and has since made great strides in the field. Now 25 and a wearer of multiple hats at Sunday in Brooklyn, she does everything from inventory and prep to bartending and barbacking. Attracted to the adrenaline, camaraderie, and flexibility of the industry, she sees herself contributing to its forward motion for many years to come. In fact, in addition to working at Sunday in Brooklyn, she is currently working toward a degree in architecture and design, which she plans to put to good use when fashioning her own space in the future.
What got you into the industry?
I got into the industry at 15 because I was a kid and needed a job. At that point I had spent over a decade of my life dancing. It was all I knew. And it reached a point where I wasn’t sure whether it was something I was just good at or wanted to do. So by 17 I quit dancing completely and discovered that there was something I really enjoyed about the service industry. I loved the people and the flexibility and I learned so much about how to interact with others. It’s more stressful than other industries, but it’s also more fulfilling.
Most memorable story?
We have a number of weddings we do here and the first wedding I worked here was hilarious. We have three floors to this restaurant and our staff basically turned into a moving company that night. We had to keep moving furniture discreetly through this tiny hallway and up and down stairs repeatedly all through the night. We were exhausted by the end of it, arms burning, and we all looked at one another and said ‘we need drinks.’ There was another wedding in which I caught the bouquet. So I guess I’m next.
Bar/Chef mentor? Why?
My sister A-K Hada. She’s the head bartender at PDT. She’s super dedicated and she’s one of those people who is as great and amazing as everyone says she is. She just did her very first bar competition called World Class, which is the Olympics of bartending, and she won the first round.
Dream solo project? Long term goals?
I am actually going to school for architecture and design right now, but I want to stay linked to this industry. I see all of these aesthetically beautiful places, but they are not functional. If you’ve never worked in the industry, you don’t know what’s needed to make a space work. I’d love to design and run my own place. I often imagine myself eventually going back out to the West Coast but I’m really loving New York right now.
Best pre staff meal?
Honey and sriracha fried chicken with blueberry pancakes. But staff meal here is always great and interesting and experimental. Chef has an extremely seasonal, no waste, farm to table approach. All the line cooks are also encouraged to pursue their own side projects, so whichever products we don’t use for dishes on the menu will be incorporated into family meals. Everyone here is super resourceful.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
I worked at this breakfast/brunch spot in Atlanta called Babs and everyone had to be very sassy. Randy Adler was at the helm and he was a super eccentric, in your face, old Jewish man from the Bronx. He would always ask me ‘Are you an order taker or are you a waitress?’ and tell me to own my tables. One of his best lines was ‘You’ve got tits and ass, so show some sass.’ He was ridiculous and I don’t know how he got away with it, but people loved him. Any other person at any other place would probably label it sexual harassment, but it was completely innocent and in good humour. It was truly its own world of a restaurant and in that context, fine and hilarious.
If/when I am in charge?
I am going to be super organized. I think there’s a big difference between being organized and micromanaging and I hate micromanaging. If anyone had an opinion on how something could be better run or how something should function, I would want them to speak up by all means. Everyone has their own way of doing things and I would definitely want to run a place in which everyone felt like they could