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Dear Liza, Love Jacqueline

April 10, 2020 | Frank Bonanno

(Liza’s work hat)

Dear Liza,

You asked for a letter of recommendation from me three weeks ago, and it’s turning into an impossible task. 

Am I to unemotionally provide an account of your successes at Bonnano Concepts the past seven years? List your accomplishments in the form of a weighty encyclopedia? How you were hired to be a data entry office assistant, but how (through 70 hour work weeks and drop dead commitment to perfection at every level) you became part of the hierarchy at the helm of eight restaurants, two bars, a food hall and a pie shop? The meetings I’ve sat through with you, with designers and tilists and cement workers, and the meetings I’ve watched you lead with philanthropists and business owners? 

Or am I to address our personal relationship —the intimacy of those 70 hour work weeks? Of coming to my home to prepare for a fundraiser, only to find you there weeding my garden (because setting is everything)? And then, when the storm made outdoor seating impossible, how we moved the furniture out of my attic together in dresses and bare feet, and in under three hours converted cobwebbed wood in my garage into fairytale seating for 40, replete with floral arrangements (because if we’re not going to make this happen, who is?). If I mention our R&D trip to Ponce City in Atlanta, do I talk about the dawn to dusk diligence of calendaring that weekend so we could squeeze information out of every moment —of talking to dozens of folks involved in that project, from architects and tenants to the leasing agent? Or do I mention that my 15 year old son came with us and that your his high school emergency contact?

Of course I recommend you. Aggressively, passionately, I recommend you, but only to someone with the imagination, creativity, work ethic, and attention to detail that parallels yours. I recommend that a professional pursue a relationship with you, because to do so will elevate their own performance, because if Liza becomes loyal, they must be doing something righteous and powerful —brilliant even, because your loyalty is well earned, hard won, and life long.

As is my loyalty to you.

I can’t write a letter of recommendation for you Liza, because doing so acknowledges that you have moved on, and it breaks my heart to put it in writing. I have loved every minute of working with you these past seven years, of yours being the first face I see when I enter the office in the morning and the last laugh I hear at night, when guests are tipping the valet and it’s time to lock the doors. From the intimacy of watching you falling in love and marry and parent, to the professionalism of knowing every event, party, relationship and team you manage would be. Perfect.

It has been my honor, and I adore you,