Dining With the Co-stars

Cosmopolitan employees sup in a space suitable to their new gig

At the Cosmopolitan’s ribbon-cutting ceremony Dec. 15, property CEO John Unwin paid tribute to the 5,000 employees—the Cosmo term is “co-stars”—delivering “spirited and vibrant” service to the new resort’s guests.

“They do this in a way that’s crafted, yet unscripted,” he declared. “This resort will show its personality through the personalities of our co-stars.” The employees, he made clear, were the most important part of the new resort.

With such a heavy responsibility on the people doing the work, what is the Cosmopolitan doing to make them feel ready for their closeup every day?

One thing is delivering a free, hot meal each shift in Co* (the asterisk is part of the name), an eatery run by Lifeworks Restaurant Group. Aiming to “inspire life at work,” Lifeworks operates restaurants at companies from New York to Silicon Valley. At the Cosmopolitan, they’re serving in a space that is refreshingly homey. A lime-green accent wall matches the tables, and the zebrano wood chairs are surprisingly comfortable. Employees lean back to catch a few minutes of television or relax in accent chairs scattered around the room.

“We wanted to create a place where co-stars could do more than eat, almost like a lounge,” explains Daniel Espino, the Cosmopolitan’s vice president of people (yes, that’s his real title).

With programs that bring in acclaimed chefs to teach cooking classes, there’s more to Co* than a mid-shift break.

A few co-stars shared their thoughts about their new workplace while relaxing in IKEA-esque swivel chairs at the back of the room. Concierge Robert Tate likes the idea of not wearing a name tag. “You’ve got to bring more of your personality to it,” he says. “Tell them your name, and give them a reason to remember your name—just like you’ll remember theirs.”

Keena Staskel, a manager at Wicked Spoon (the resort’s “gourmet buffet”), says she epitomizes the Cosmopolitan’s policy of hiring for the person, not the résumé. Although she’d worked in one of the nation’s top luxury hotel groups, she had a varied career path, including a stint as a personal trainer, before finding a fit at the Cosmopolitan.

Both co-stars seem genuinely excited to be working at a place that allows them to “be themselves.” And if the vibe in Co* is any guide, it looks like they’ll have a lot of encouragement to do just that.

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