Who’s the first person to welcome you to Atlanta restaurants like JCT Kitchen & Bar and Antico? It’s not a host or server, but the valet outside. The short film Lawrence of Atlanta follows Lawrence Njuguna, an Atlanta-based valet parker who has worked with some of the city’s best chefs. Njuguna is originally from Nairobi, but he’s lived in Georgia for over 13 years.
Njuguna wasn’t always in the parking business — his first hospitality job was as a server at Cracker Barrel — but now owns his own valet company, and he considers parking an essential part of the restaurant experience. “Valets are the hosts and hostesses of the restaurant industry,” Njuguna says. “You’re the first person they see coming in, and you’re the last person they see coming out.” His hope is that more restaurants will come to recognize the importance of a good valet experience. As he puts it, “parking cars [is] simple. Building relationships, not as much.”
Watch the full video above. Lawrence of Atlanta is a film by Troy Stains for the Southern Foodways Alliance, an ongoing documentary project that “documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.”