Making history at Les Deux Magots: Sandrine De Sousa Costa, the café's first female "garçon"
|Sandrine De Sousa Costa|
"You're making history!" That's what longtime customers of Les Deux Magots frequently tell Sandrine De Sousa Costa, the first female "garçon" to work at the world famous cafe located on the bustling boulevard Saint Germaine. Indeed, the idea of a woman entering into what has long been considered an exclusively male domain was so progressive that the director of Les Deux Magots, who had already worked with Sandrine at another establishment, asked the waiters if they would agree to have the 23 year old join their ranks prior to hiring her. Held under close scrutiny by both her colleagues and the regular clients of Les Deux Magots, many of whom dine at the cafe on a daily basis, Sandrine was pleased when they declared that she "works like a man". In fact, even though it was difficult to find a uniform that would fit her petite size when she started working at Les Deux Magots last April, the only discernible difference between Sandrine and the other "garçons" is that her long hair is swept into chignon and she wears a black tie rather than a bow tie.
Knowing that most visitors to Paris have an opinion about French waiters, I asked Sandrine what she likes and doesn't like about serving tourists. In between deftly delivering steaming cups of coffee to a table full of Parisians and taking the order of the German woman seated next to me, Sandrine didn't need any time at all for reflection before answering, "I like it when tourists are zen, or relaxed...when I can see that they're happy to be on vacation. Sometimes they'll ask me about the history of the cafe or a question about Paris." After returning from a trip to the kitchen to place an order, she added, "I don't like it when people are impatient and expect me to serve them the minute they sit down. It's not always possible, especially when we're very busy."
Sandrine, the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, started working in her family's restaurant in a western suburb of Paris at the age of 14. From there, she polished her skills at La Coupole before moving to Chez Francis, a chic brasserie with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Accustomed to working long hours, Sandrine hopes to one day open her own restaurant, perhaps with her father now that the family restaurant has closed. In the meantime, she feels very fortunate to have a position at Les Deux Magots. Not only is she their first female garçon, but she's also the only woman to work at any of the mythical cafes and brasseries (Café de Flore, Brasserie Lipp and Le Bonaparte) in the neighborhood.
Les Deux Magots
6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés
Tel: 01 45 48 55 25
|Sandrine De Sousa Costa|