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By Gia Miller

Photography by Justin Negard

Waiters/waitresses are the world’s oldest influencers – they tell us what to eat (and drink) whenever we dine out. And we often take their advice without watching hours of their videos to determine if they’re trustworthy. We sat down with some of our local influencers to get to know the folks who influence our choices.

Danielle Swensen
Server & Bartender, 6 years
Lexington Square cafe,
Mount Kisco

Do you consider yourself an influencer?
Sort of. You can help guide somebody, but my flavor profile might not be the same as someone else’s. When people come in more and more, it’s easier to help recommend things because you get to know what they like.

What recommendation do you wish more people would take you up on?
Save room for dessert. The chocolate chip cookie pie and the sticky toffee cake are amazing. But the coconut bread pudding is my favorite.

What do you love about your job?
When somebody has spent months planning a party and they’re a little bit nervous about how it’s going to go, I can tell them, “Listen, we’ve got this. We’re going to take good care of you. This party is going to go off without a hitch.” And then I can watch them take a deep breath. Being able to do that for somebody is such an unbelievable thing.

What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened at this restaurant?
There are two. At the bar, I once had to ask a woman to put her shoes back on. She had her feet in a man’s lap, and he was rubbing them. I didn’t know this was a conversation I needed to have with adults, but I had to tell them, “Feet on the floor.”

Another time, someone brought their dog into the restaurant and said it was a service dog. But then he hopped on the table and spilled all of their drinks! I’m not allowed to ask to see their papers, but this is not how a service dog behaves, so I asked them to leave.

What have you learned about people while doing this job?
Everybody’s got secrets. Add a little booze and people tend to spill their secrets.

What’s your favorite dish?
The short ribs with mushroom risotto. The whole dish is perfect. I love the risotto, and the meat just falls apart. People asked me for a knife, and I tell them, “I’ll get it for you, but you won’t need it.” And I also love the coconut bread pudding. Everything is homemade – there’s even homemade caramel sauce and homemade chocolate sauce. It makes a difference.

Editor-in-Chief at Connect to Northern Westchester | Website | + posts

Gia Miller is an award-winning journalist and the editor-in-chief/co-publisher of Connect to Northern Westchester. She has a magazine journalism degree (yes, that's a real thing) from the University of Georgia and has written for countless national publications, ranging from SELF to The Washington Post. Gia desperately wishes schools still taught grammar. Also, she wants everyone to know they can delete the word "that" from about 90% of their sentences, and there's no such thing as "first annual." When she's not running her media empire, Gia enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, laughing at her crazy dog and listening to a good podcast. She thanks multiple alarms, fermented grapes and her amazing husband for helping her get through each day. Her love languages are food and humor.