(Credit: Mark Umbrella/Shutterstock.com)
As an entertainment lawyer, Robert Darwell spends much of his time at the world’s toniest venues.
Still, TGI Fridays holds a special place in his heart.
It’s there, among the hot wings and nachos, that Darwell, a partner at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, waited tables during college and learned the science of multitasking. It’s a skill he said has helped him, perhaps more than anything, become a successful Hollywood lawyer.
It’s also what spurred him in 2013 to launch TheDailyServer, an Instagram feed that now enjoys about 20,000 followers. TheDailyServer has a single mission: to present one photo each day of a different waiter, waitress or bartender who has served him well. So far, he’s posted about 1,400 photos.
“Waiting tables was my best training for private practice,” said Darwell, 53, whose work generally focuses on the acquisition and financing side of movies. One of his current projects is director Sofia Coppola’s upcoming film, “Beguiled,” starring Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst, which will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival later this month. Other projects have included “Brokeback Mountain,” “Traffic” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” The film, “Wonderstruck,” starring Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams and Amy Hargreaves, is another recent project for Darwell, who works from the firm’s Century City and New York offices.
TheDailyServer is a playful side gig for Darwell and is a tribute to all those service warriors who successfully manage, with a smile, the multitude of customer demands.
Darwell said he can relate.
“Nobody wants to hear about a problem at the next time table, or, in my case, another client,” he said. “Nobody wants you sending someone else in to handle a task.”
While serving customers at the TGI Fridays in Scottsdale, Arizona, Darwell learned to how to read people’s moods—a skill he still uses.
“When you walk up to the table, you have to analyze who you’re taking care of. Are they in a bad mood? Do they want to be entertained? Do they want to be left alone? That same skill set applies to the practice of law,” he said.
The photos on TheDailyServer are action shots of bartenders pouring libations at places ranging from hipster pubs in Argentina to swanky clubs in Kazakhstan. Others feature waiters and waitresses toting armloads of full plates— Aileen at Mishiguene in Buenos Aires, Simone at The Pig and the Lady in Honolulu.
“So many people post their food or their cocktail, which often appear in mine, but my focus is on the individuals working in those bars and restaurants to create a positive experience,” he said.
Darwell, who’s not very active on Facebook or Twitter, works hard to keep the shots on Instagram lively and fresh. It seems to be working. Three hundred of them will be exhibited at the Paris restaurant and gallery CO18, located in the 18th Arrondissement, for a month starting in September. (Darwell, a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, has homes in Paris, Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and Buenos Aires.)
Besides TheDailyServer endeavor, Darwell works as a disc jockey under the name “Darwell.” One of his DJ jobs last year was at a gala at the Zurich Film Festival, a client. Guests included Oliver Stone, Ewan McGregor and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, following the “Snowden” premier.
“Bob could be negotiating a complicated motion picture financing agreement while snapping the photo of a tatted Williamsburg bartender serving a bespoke cocktail, while also opining about the cultural relevance of an obscure indie rock band,” said Howard Meyers, an executive vice president at Focus Features and one of Darwell’s clients. Meyers called Darwell “a true Renaissance man.”
Although a hobby, TheDailyServer has resulted in some legal work for Darwell, but not in a direct way, he said. It’s helped in client pitches by distinguishing Darwell from other lawyers.
“People will ask me why I started it, and it’s a more natural way to talk about the importance of client service,” he said.
Because TheDailyServer isn’t about Darwell but instead focused on other people, it’s good marketing, said Helen Bertelli, a vice president at public relations firm Infinite Global.
“What Bob is showing, through this Instagram account, is that he’s a nice guy,” Bertelli said. “He’s a person who is interested in telling the stories of ordinary, hardworking people, and that is very appealing.”
Many of Darwell’s posts on TheDailyServer, bien sûr, are shots from France.
In one photo, Issam, a bartender at LePre in Paris, is making Darwell a Tequila concoction. In another, Paul is crafting a “What’s Up Doc,” with tequila, horseradish, and fresh carrot juice.
Another recent post is from Beverly Hills. In the photo, Sara, at Nerano, is serving up a mouth-watering dish of scallops, clams and gulf shrimp.
Only a handful of servers have not permitted Darwell to take their pictures, he said, mainly because they were aspiring actors or musicians who didn’t want their food-service occupations made public. Most of the time, and especially as the popularity of TheDailyServer has grown, he can snap away at will.
“I get a lot of free drinks,” he said.
Contact Leigh Jones at email@example.com. On Twitter: @LeighJones711.
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