A Toast to Organization, Vibes, and Lambrusco with Olivia Kiddon of Macchialina

Outside Macchialina in Miami, Florida // Photo Credit: Max Reihn

Mar 13, 2024

Macchialina is an Italian restaurant in Miami Beach, Florida. Opened in 2012, it has received accolades from the Michelin Guide to James Beard nominations, but what really makes this rustic-yet-sophisticated pasta spot special is the energy that radiates across the dining room. Walk in on a Saturday night, and you’ll find every seat filled, every glass full, and a smile on everyone’s face from guests to staff.

At Toast, we create technology to help restaurants thrive, but we also know it takes a team of hardworking people from front to back of house to power great hospitality experiences every day. The “Toast to…” series salutes those individuals and gets to the heart of what makes this industry so special. We sat down with Assistant General Manager Olivia Kiddon to toast her and the restaurant’s success, talk about how she got to where she is today, and the perfect “vibe” she looks for in a thriving restaurant.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? How long have you worked in restaurants, and how did you get into the industry?

I’ve been in the industry since early 2012, pretty much right out of college. I went to college for art—I have a bachelor's degree in Fine Art Photography with a minor in Art History. Working in restaurants was a way after college to make ends meet, but then I fell in love with it. 

My first job was as a hostess, and I got stuck in the office answering phones a whole lot, but the kitchen staff would always come in with stuff to try—I tried blood sausage for the first time sitting in that office! I just thought the food was so cool, the way the staff spoke about stuff was so cool, and from then on, I was gunning to move up and up. First I thought, “I’m going to be lead hostess,” and then I went somewhere else and helped food-run, then I became a server and it snowballed from there. I think this is the most exciting job that you can have, really.

Tell me about the restaurant you work at now, how you got there, and what you do there.

Before I worked here, I would always say, “The only thing that's gonna get me to South Beach would be one of two places — the bar Sweet Liberty or Macchialina.” And then, obviously, the pandemic happened. 

Before the pandemic, I was a general manager and a food and beverage manager at a different restaurant, so I'd already moved up, but the opportunity presented itself to work at Macchialina, and I thought, “I'm not gonna pass this up.” I went from a server to working behind the bar, to floor manager, and now I'm Assistant General Manager. I oversee the bar kind of like the bar manager, and on the floor, Jackie Pirolo [one of Macchialina’s owners] runs the beverage program, but I’m her day-to-day eyes and ears on the floor. And I absolutely love it.

Photo Credit: Andrea Grujic

What makes Macchialina a special place to work?

Apart from the food, which is really what brought me there, and the wine that I've always enjoyed, it's the way that they run things. It's very focused on personal knowledge and personal growth. There is so much that goes into working there, knowing about the wine list and how we do service. We do things differently than a lot of restaurants, beyond the standard steps of service, and have very specific ways that we do things for the front of the house. I'm a very organized person, and I like that kind of structure, and Macchialina is built on that. It's been there for 12 years, and it's one of those places where if it's not broke, don't fix it. 

Are there any special tools or technologies you use to keep things so organized?

Absolutely. I've worked in a lot of places, and my boyfriend is also in the industry. We often talk about how you can have the heart and the soul and everything, but on the back end, you need to have a management team and ownership that is really on top of what they've got going on. Coming into Macchialina, all of those standards were already set. 

We use Toast all the time—in our weekly manager meetings, mostly everything we talk about are from reports we pull from Toast. We do our product mix, we talk about what items have been selling more or less. A year or two ago, we changed our beverage menu to add on the Martini menu, and we would look at the sale of martinis from that menu compared to the year prior. We use it for overtime, labor percentages — everything that we discuss on a weekly basis. 

We also have a huge DropBox account, which is fantastic. Everything that we ever do, all of our standard operating procedures, anytime we have notes about an event that we did that we want to remember for the future—I mean everything—we have menus from years past.  Everything is in Dropbox, all super organized.

We also use Slack as our communications platform with our bar team and our host team which is great. I've seen a lot of restaurants have group chats that can get super unprofessional. Slack is a very professional channel to keep everybody in the know of what's going on at all times. We are definitely using technology constantly to keep everything afloat.

Not a technology exactly, but a “tool” I also use frequently is Danny Meyer's book "Setting the Table". It absolutely validated everything I ever felt about the industry and has been an invaluable source of knowledge and management techniques. I've read it like three times and it gets better with each read.

The bar at Macchialina // Photo credit: Adam DelGiudice

At Toast, it’s our mission to help restaurants thrive — what does “thriving” mean to you? What does a thriving restaurant look like?

We talk about this all the time! To me, it's a vibe. We like to say that we are “vibe-setters” at Macchialina, and I think a thriving restaurant is where the vibe is on point. Like, the lighting is great, the music is good… I love when I see a bar full of guests chatting with each other and making friends or two tables that are sitting next to each other laughing about something, and servers are dancing on the floor around each other—it’s like an electricity. It's electricity between the guests and the staff that's working and the kitchen in the back, the whole village.

When I hear thrive, I think of those busy Saturday nights where everybody's just having a great time, and you can see it in people's faces, and it's in the air. I definitely think I work at a thriving restaurant, I will say that for sure.

Who in the industry (friend/mentor/icon you look up to) would you like to toast? 

The Pirolos! The owners of Macchialina. They are such a powerhouse brother-sister duo. Their work ethic is incredible, and their dedication to the restaurant is unrivaled. On top of that, they're maybe two of the funniest people I know. It really keeps a smile on your face when you can work for two people who take what we do so seriously. Everything they do and everything they think about is for the restaurant—but they can also be the most fun, most laid-back people. I would definitely raise a toast to them, I don't think anyone is more deserving of what we're doing at Macchialina right now other than these two people. They are worth every minute of it.

What are you Toast-ing with today? 

It is my day off; it's been a long week. Before I left the restaurant, I was thinking, “I'm gonna go home, have my Pomodoro [one of Macchialina’s signature dishes], and grab a bottle of wine.” So I grabbed some Lambrusco from the restaurant, a nice Cleto Chiarli “Vecchia Modena” Lambrusco Di Sorbara chillin’ in the fridge, and that'll be my day-off reward for this evening. 

Photo Credit: Andrea Grujic

This interview was edited for space and clarity.

Olivia Kiddon is the Assistant General Manager, Bar Manager and Sommelier at Macchialina, a rustic Italian restaurant located in Miami Beach, Florida. To learn more about the restaurant or book a table, you can visit their website www.macchialina.com, you can also follow them on Instagram @Macchialina

About Toast

Toast [NYSE: TOST] is a cloud-based, all-in-one digital technology platform purpose-built for the entire restaurant community. Toast provides a comprehensive platform of software as a service (SaaS) products and financial technology solutions that give restaurants everything they need to run their business across point of sale, payments, operations, digital ordering and delivery, marketing and loyalty, and team management. We serve as the restaurant operating system, connecting front of house and back of house operations across service models including dine-in, takeout, delivery, catering, and retail. Toast helps restaurants streamline operations, increase revenue, and deliver amazing guest experiences. For more information, visit www.toasttab.com.