Meet James Parsons, General Manager, The Lakehouse and Civility & Unrest
James Parsons knows that growth comes from change and trying something new. He has been part of Fire & Vine Hospitality since 2003 and in July 2018, began a new chapter with the company as general manager of The Lakehouse and Civility & Unrest in Bellevue’s W Hotel. James embodies the heart of hospitality that El Gaucho is known for and is looking forward to a new path at The Lakehouse. “I fell in love quickly with The Lakehouse. It is a special combination of elevated, yet casual where we want our guests to feel welcomed into our home and experience new flavors and techniques.”
James knows how to start fresh in a new spot. He was born in Durham, NC but only lived there a month before his parents were transferred to Atlanta, and then along to Hawaii while he was in grade school. He attended Bainbridge High School during another transition, but ultimately graduated from a small high school on Oahu.
After studying business management and computer science in college, he eventually felt a calling to the hospitality industry. He had always worked in restaurants to pay for school and always saw it as paycheck instead of a passion. That all changed when he had an epiphany during a staff training at Tulio in Seattle. He realized he could work hard, continue to learn, and make a career of it. And he hasn’t looked back.
James started in a newly created spot just for him at El Gaucho in 2003 as a busser for private events. He recalls that there was no openings on the staff, because everyone loved their jobs, but he gradually took server positions, bartending shifts, and eventually became a Captain in 2006 and the Wine Director in 2007. In 2010, James and his wife, Amanda, moved to Chicago for a promotion with her company. James parlayed his wine experience to represent his beloved Washington wine region. He joined Woodhouse Family Cellars as the Regional Director of Sales & Marketing, growing the territory to 20 states and a rich portfolio of Washington wines.
2012 brought them home to Seattle, and James could think of no place better to be than back at El Gaucho. In 2015 he was promoted to captain of operations and Wine Director for the entire company. In 2016, he promoted to General Manager.
When Chef Jason Wilson became part of the Fire & Vine Hospitality family, James was inspired by his cooking style and shared philosophy. “Jason believes in the same things we do – putting the guest first and celebrating each day.” He is excited about taking the helm at The Lakehouse and Civility & Unrest in Bellevue and the opportunity to grow in the company and learn new skills and techniques, while sharing the El Gaucho service experience.
When asked what he will bring from El Gaucho to The Lakehouse, James referenced El Gaucho founder, Paul Mackay’s belief that “we are the stewards of the El Gaucho service legacy and it will live forever if we take care of it and teach it.” James believes that this opportunity is the perfect next step in his long term career with Fire & Vine Hospitality. “Working for this company is truly a profound experience. We all have the opportunity to retire with this company. How often do you hear that anymore – in any industry, let alone the restaurant industry? I am proud to help support our team as they pursue the passion of their craft.”
In his free time, James admits to being a baseball freak (he’s a loyal Mariners fan), and loves to get outdoors with his wife, Amanda and their young daughter.
James says he will miss seeing the regular guests at El Gaucho Seattle and invites them to visit him at The Lakehouse and looks forward to creating new relationships with Eastside guests – he has an even greater opportunity to create special experiences with both The Lakehouse and Civility & Unrest. Please join James and his team for an exceptional service encounter for breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner