AL's Place Made Us a Mixtape, Now We're Goin' Steady

Catch a glimpse of an average night at a not-so-average watering hole.

March 10, 2017 ‚óŹ 2 min read

Something a little different this week: a shout-out to all the front-of-house warriors providing custom nightly soundtracks for their fellow staff and patrons. Elliot Engel, music maestro at San Francisco's AL's Place, keeps the energy up in the dining room and keeps the kitchen sane.

The DJ at the AL's Place farm, courtesy of Alicia Fischer 

Our music program at AL's Place aims to match the pace of the restaurant, which is vibrant and fast-paced. As much as I love the new Solange album, it's hard to find a place for her music when we're turning the whole restaurant over in half an hour.

Generally, we play upbeat music that makes our staff happy, because that energy translates to our service and our guests really feel it. We even print out little cards that describe the playlist and why we like those songs so much. We share our playlists on Spotify so they can listen along at home. It's just another little way we can send our guests home happy and thinking about their next visit.

So we start the playlists off with really positive, fun songs that most of the staff know the words to. This gives everyone high spirits when we're seating the first turn. Think DRAM's song Cash Machine, which is so insanely catchy it probably sticks with most of the staff for an hour or so.

As we're entering our second turn, things can get pretty harried, so we play a couple songs that brings that smile back. Tame Impala's The Less I Know The Better or Biggie's Hypnotize usually does the trick.

Then for third turn, at about 9:30 for us, we need as much energy as we can get. This is where we bring out the big guns like Queen's Don't Stop Me Now or Outkast's Ms. Jackson. To finish strong, we usually save some of the best and most playful songs as a little gift to our team for making it to the end of a long night. Childish Gambino's Sweatpants or R. Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly definitely help get the sidework done faster (I promise we're not just wildly singing at each other or showing off our best dance moves).


Elliot Engel | Original photograph via Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott for Bon Appetit