Gino’s waiter as much of a Baton Rouge tradition as restaurant’s famed arancini
Career waiters are common in New Orleans, where generations of families work for the same restaurants, but they’re unusual in Baton Rouge, Business Report details in its latest feature.
It’s part of what makes Alvin “Butch” Smith of Gino’s so special.
His section at Gino’s Restaurant on Bennington Drive is full of jokes and jabs between regulars and Smith himself, a career waiter who has worked at Gino’s for 42 years.
It doesn’t take long before diners are also making conversation across tables, not just with Smith, but with each other.
“It’s just something I do,” says Smith, 65. “By now, people who ask to sit in my section know what they’re going to get.”
Tall and striking with a trim Van Dyke, Smith is known by generations of Gino’s diners.
It’s commonplace for patrons to request his section, the rightmost room in the 220-seat eatery. Longtime Gino’s diners remember it as part of the old smoking section, a stone’s throw from the bar.
It’s also adjacent to a private room where lobbyists and state legislators once holed up to do business.
“More deals got done in there that at the Capitol,” Smith says.
Owner Gino Marino, whose mother, Grace “Mama” Marino, founded the restaurant in 1966, is grateful for retaining such a loyal staff.
“We’ve been lucky,” Marino says. “We’re very fortunate to have someone work for us this long.”
Smith’s father, Alvin Smith Sr., also worked for Gino’s—first at its original location on Perkins Road, and briefly at its Bennington location. Butch Smith was working at the City Club when his father got him a job at Gino’s in 1976, and he’s been there ever since.