MoCo Spotlight: The American Dream (The Story of Herson Reyes)

December 26, 2017
Alex Tsironis
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The American Dream has been defined as the set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success. Herson Reyes, an immigrant from El Salvador, has turned his opportunity as a busser at a prominent local restaurant (Cava Mezze in Traville Gateway in Rockville) to a career as the general manager of that same restaurant.

Herson Reyes, 25, was born in San Miguel, El Salvador. He moved to Silver Spring, MD with his mother, his two brothers, and his sister when he was 7 years old. He attended Glen Haven Elementary School and Parkland Middle School. His family moved to Wheaton and finally Gaithersburg, where Herson graduated from Quince Orchard High School.

Herson wanted to work from a young age. His older brother Ever, who was already working as a bar back at the Capitol Hill Cava Mezze location, told Herson and his twin brother Edward that there was one bussing position available at Cava Mezze in D.C. The twins played a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to see who the opportunity would go to…Herson won.

As a junior in high school, Herson began his almost daily commute from Gaithersburg to D.C. each day after school. A little over a month later he was told there was a position available at the Rockville location; an opportunity he was quick to accept.

After spending over a year and a half as a busser, he added bar back to his resume. At this point, Herson’s twin brother, Edward, had also started working at the restaurant.

Cava Mezze founder, Ike Grigoropoulos, would tell him “the faster this table is cleaned up, the faster we can get another customer to their table…the happier the customer, the better the tip.” Bussers also relied on the gratuity of the customers, as they would receive a small portion of tips from servers, so Herson heeded this advice.

By 19, he was picking up occasional bartending shifts. At 20, after three years with the company, he became a server.

Herson has always prided himself in being a hard worker. “From the time I started working, I did my job as if the restaurant was mine…I always treat the customers as if they are guests in my own home.”

His work ethic led to him gaining some managerial training and picking up a few shifts managing in his early 20s. By this time his older brother Ever had already become a manager at the D.C. location on Capitol Hill. His twin brother, Edward, had also become a server and was receiving the same training necessary to become a manager.

Many bussers Herson worked with would leave for a new job when they were offered a few cents more per hour elsewhere, but he and his brothers always put the company first and could tell that good things would happen in return.

The Reyes brothers now all play a tremendous role within Cava Mezze. Herson is the general manager at the Rockville location in Traville Gateway. His twin brother, Edward, is the general manager at the Baltimore location. His oldest brother, Ever, is the general manager at the D.C. location on Capitol Hill.

In his 10 years with the company, Herson Reyes has enjoyed watching the company grow. “I have been here since I was 17 and I have grown with Cava. I want to help Cava continue to grow.” he said.

“This Cava Mezze location is special [Cava Rockville]. It’s the original location, it has a feel to it.” he told me. “It’s almost impossible for me to pick a favorite dish, but I can tell you that nobody does scallops risotto and octopus like we do.” Herson said with pride.

Herson Reyes and his brothers are living the dream…some might say the American Dream.

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