Welcome to Front & Center, a series highlighting front of the house professionals in Austin restaurants. We've asked local industry folks, media types and food fans to tell us who makes dining out in Austin a pleasure—if you'd like to throw in your two cents, there's room for that, too.
In this edition of Front & Center, things are getting a little meta: bar manager Justin Elliott of the Volstead Lounge, himself a much-loved front-of-house figure, says that his favorite FOH staffer in Austin is Ben Craven of Perla's Seafood & Oyster Bar. Writes Elliott:
For a good handful of reasons, I think Ben Craven is my favorite FOH'er in Austin. He's always charming and knowledgeable, but moreover he leads the bar crew at Perla's in a really beautiful way, ensuring that literally every single person on that staff is always as pleasant and knowledgeable as he is. He's curated a really amazing team there that's dedicated entirely toward service.· All Front & Center Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX-]
His beverage program is always interesting and his backbar is gorgeously and intelligently stocked but, then I can say that about a lot of people in Austin. I think the really compelling point is the way he's created a culture of service from the top down at that bar that is absolutely, unflaggingly exceptional from the bartenders to the barbacks to the servers to even the guys working the raw bar.
It's not that it's my favorite bar because of the look or the menu or anything like that, it's that every time I'm at Perla's it's the best time I've been to Perla's, and I think we can all agree that from our vantage point right in the middle of Austin's culinary growing pains, consistency is maybe the most important thing of all.
· Perla's [Official]