(BROOKLYN, N.Y.) — Being the general manager of a restaurant is not easy, especially when it’s one of the busiest and most popular restaurants in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Madre has been around since 2019, but has recently taken off as one of Brooklyn’s hidden gems and has gone viral on TikTok. It’s been listed as an up-and-coming establishment to watch out for in various food and beverage publications and was awarded a Michelin plate.
Jean Carlos Peralta has acted as manager since its inception in 2019 when he was just 21 years old but has now stepped into the restaurant’s GM role with gusto. This is what a typical Friday night looks like for him.
At around 5 PM, the entire front-of-house staff gathers for the daily lineup meeting, led by Peralta, a.k.a. JC. They go over service notes, food specials for the day, and any notable reservations to watch out for. The meeting breaks at 5:25 and everyone leaves to finish off any last-minute details before the service starts at 5:30.
Today, JC is headed to Sama Street, a nearby cocktail bar with whom Madre has done pop-ups in the past. They are looking to start a cocktail competition with other local restaurants/bars in February.
After having a cocktail and shot with the owners of Sama Street, he heads back to Madre. “We’re expecting a full restaurant, it should be full steam ahead. We got about 3 turns per table,” he says.
Upon arrival, he’s immediately confronted with issues to solve. The hostess lets him know that there’s a 4-top table with half its party 40 minutes late. This is an issue when there are more reservations following that table, and everyone needs a minimum time allotted to enjoy their meal.
Angela, that table’s frustrated server, comes to JC to ask him how to politely tell the table that, full party or not, they need to get their meal going. “I want you to have, you know, the proper time to dine here with us…” she says to him, rehearsing what she might say to the table. “I’m happy to touch that table, and have that conversation with them,” he says.
With professionalism and grace, he deals with that table and has them all laughing in minutes.
Besides charming unruly or unaware guests, being a manager also entails being playing every possible role in the restaurant, including host, server, busboy, runner, expo, sommelier, you name it. JC will even jump into the dishwashing pit and get down and dirty if the need arises.
Mr. G is a local Greenpoint character and also a friend of Thomas Keller’s. He pops into Madre regularly to patronize the restaurant, but he can sometimes get too distracting to the staff. Here, JC swoops in to entertain and distract him.
He’s also shown running food and delivering it to a table. One of the most important things about Madre is its elevated touches: food isn’t just dropped on the table, “drop lines” have to accompany it. He will explain each aspect of the plate and its finishing touches to a guest: “Sage bechamel, persimmon three ways, pepita brittle and ruta vega soup…”
Little touches like these differentiate Madre from other Greenpoint spots and bring it to a more fine-dining level.
Outside, JC pours some rosé as he sends us off. “That’s just a quick little snapshot of some of the things that we do here at the restaurant,” he says. “Fridays are a ton of fun, it’s always busy, the staff is super excited to get down, and you know, ultimately Greenpoint, this neighborhood has a lot of good things coming, so hopefully you get to see a little bit more of us in the future.”