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.

Yolanda Pace
Server & bartender, 18 years
Bacio, Cross River

Do you consider yourself an influencer?
I’ve never thought of myself that way, but I see your point. The way I see it, I want you to feel like you’re home, and I try to treat people like I want to be treated. Here, it’s personal.

What is it like to work at Bacio?
I’m always happy to be here, even if I’m having a bad day, it all changes. It’s the people – the coworkers are my family, and I love my customers. I love being a part of their lives and making that personal connection. Food is personal; it’s not just about influencing their choices. When you break bread with someone, it’s personal.

What is your number one rule when making recommendations?
Honesty. But first, I like to get to know them and know what they like. It’s not that difficult to suggest something when you know the person.

What do you wish more people would take you up on?
The trout. Nobody makes trout like Bacio. I’ve had it elsewhere, and I’m disappointed every time.

Is there a recommendation you would like to make, but you know it won’t be well-received?
Pair a red wine with fish. A nice, light red wine will go lovely with the fish.

What’s the best thing about your job?
I love what I do, and if you leave here feeling like it’s your home, I did my job. I’m never leaving; I’ll be here in my walker. Just put me in the corner and give me my vodka!

What’s an experience you’ll never forget?
I have so many, but here’s a recent one. Several weeks ago, a couple came in, and I served them a cocktail at the bar. They were a lovely, beautiful couple. Then, they sat down at their table. At the end of the night, we’re cleaning and they’re still here, and I hear him say to her, “Impossible – $75 to get an Uber? This is crazy. We cannot afford this.” I offered to help, and he asked for the phone number of a cab, but they also wanted to charge an incredible amount. So, I offered to bring them home. She was embarrassed, but he said, “Yes, please, thank you so much.” In the car, I learned that she’s a teacher – she’s changing lives! So I made a new friend. Now we text each other.

What’s your favorite dish?
Garganelli alla zafferano. It’s something you don’t eat every because you know it’s bad for you. But there are some vegetables in it, so it gives me the illusion that I’m doing good.

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Justin is an award-winning designer and photographer. He was the owner and creative director at Future Boy Design, producing work for clients such as National Parks Service, Vintage Cinemas, The Tarrytown Music Hall, and others. His work has appeared in Bloomberg TV, South by Southwest (SXSW), Edible Magazine, Westchester Magazine, Refinery 29, the Art Directors Club, AIGA and more.

Justin is a two-time winner of the International Design Awards, American Photography and Latin America Fotografia. Vice News has called Justin Negard as “one of the best artists working today.”

He is the author of two books, On Design, which discusses principles and the business of design, and Bogotà which is a photographic journey through the Colombian capital.

Additionally, Justin has served as Creative Director at CityMouse Inc., an NYC-based design firm which provides accessible design for people with disabilities, and has been awarded by the City of New York, MIT Media Lab and South By Southwest.

He lives in Katonah with his wonderfully patient wife, son and daughter.