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Ben Cissner, Succotash

When musician and singer Ben Cissner — who, like most starving artists, worked various stints as a waiter — decided to move back to Kansas City from Portland, Oregon, he called a couple of friends and asked about the job market in his hometown. "A mutual friend of ours told him I was moving Succotash from the River Market to 26th and Holmes," says the restaurant's owner, Beth Barden, "and I had some odd jobs for him." Cissner helped Barden tile floors and columns, and he worked on pretty much anything else that needed to be done. When the relocated Succotash opened, Barden hired Cissner as a bartender, but he found his true calling as a waiter. "He cares about his customers so much," Barden says. "He goes out of his way to please them without, you know, being precious or fake." Cissner says his years spent driving a cab taught him the secret to good customer service: "Be as sincere as possible and pick up the signals that your customers are sending you. Without saying much, they'll tell you what kind of service they want: friendly or unobtrusive. They just want to be taken care of."

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