Natalie at Old Venice: Best Server (female)
I almost choked on my iced tea when I asked Natalie at Old Venice Restaurant in Manhattan Beach how long she had worked there and she said 15 years. She looks about 20. In fact, the petite blond and quintessential beach girl is 30 and started working at Old Venice when she was 14. It’s her family’s restaurant. On July 18, 1984, Jimmy and Julie Hantzarides opened Old Venice with recipes from Jimmy’s Greek upbringing and with the help of their children Andrew and Natalie. It has not been an easy 30 years for the family. In 2006, the restaurant was destroyed by a fire and had to be rebuilt from the ground up. In 2008, Jimmy died in a bicycle accident on Manhattan Beach Boulevard. Once again, the Hantzarides family had to rebuild. The sweet, modest Natalie continues to stand by her mother to keep her father’s dream alive. Thanks to the family’s commitment, Old Venice is thriving. The care that Julie and Natalie put into the restaurant and their customers is a living tribute to Jimmy, and their warmth will keep you coming back. Old Venice, 1001 Manhattan Ave, MB, (310) 376-0242.
Runner-up: Christina at Hudson House.