Front of the House, Back of the House: Brittany O’Donnell and Tom Burch at The Merchant Tavern

words and photos by Krissy O’Connor



Front of the House: Brittany O’Donnell

Age: 22

Occupation: Hostess

Hometown: Cuyahoga Falls & Akron

What is your biggest challenge as a Hostess?

The biggest challenge as a hostess is trying to manage the flow of the restaurant at the same time as greeting customers and answering phones. There is a lot of multitasking that is necessary. We have to do menu counts every 15 minutes.That means that we have to let the kitchen know how many menus are out on tables so they are aware of how many tickets will be coming back with orders.  

What do you want to be when you ‘grow up’?

I am currently a senior at Kent State majoring in Business Management. I am interested in the Human Resources perspective of Management.  

If you could be any kitchen utensil, what would it be?

Well, if anything I guess a fork. A fork can hold a lot of food unlike a spoon. You can’t eat a lot of spaghetti with a spoon. A fork is much more of a multi-tasker.

What do you do for fun in Akron when you’re not working?

I am a student so when I have spare time I am studying. I do like to hang out with friends, watch movies, or go up to Cleveland. I enjoy reading novels despite all of my schoolwork.  Currently I am reading The Girls by Emma Cline.


Bbohack of the House: Tom Burch

Age: 34

Line Chef

Hometown:  Cuyahoga Falls

What is your inspiration when coming up with new recipes or specials?

Our head chef, Vic, is really good about letting you explore. It is typically a group collaboration. For instance, if I really want a certain meat served we all make it happen. The Merchant has a motto here, “…where friends become family.” That goes into the kitchen as well. I have worked in kitchens for 17 years, and this kitchen is the most tight-knit staff I have been a part of.

Do you have a favorite TV-Reality Cooking show that you watch?

No, not really. I am the single-dad of a two-year old so I watch a lot of cartoons. So, lots of Paw Patrol and Sofia the First on our television. In fact, I watch Paw Patrol even after she goes to sleep.

What would I find in your personal refrigerator at home right now?

Before I had custody of my daughter, nine months ago, nothing but condiments and Taco Bell hot sauce. Now that I have her at home it is stocked up with loads of fruit, vegetables and lots of food. I do enjoy cooking while I am at home thanks to being taught by my grandmother. I also cook some healthy food for my grandfather now that my grandmother has passed on.

What do you do for fun in Akron when you’re not working?

Anything to get my daughter worn out! My girlfriend and I like to take her to the Towpath trail and end up at the Winking Lizard. We do a lot of hiking in the Metro Parks and we also love going to the Akron

Krissy O’Connor loves to cook but loves going out to eat even more.