He weaves in and out of the maze of tables, the dining room is overflowing with guests, and he has been moving non-stop for 12 hours. Meet Grant Reynolds, the Wine Director of New York City’s Charlie Bird. The SoHo restaurant has been bustling since opening in 2013, with Reynolds as a driving force. He leads a full-bodied work life — often finding himself on the grind for 14 hours straight, sometimes six days a week. And with a resume that includes studying with Bobby Stuckey at Frasca Food and Wine and a stint at Noma, colleagues and patrons can agree that his work ethic is unassailable. Yet the real question is, how does Reynolds sustain his energy and maintain such success?
What is a typical work day for you, from start to finish?
I wake up at around 8 or 9 a.m. The first thing I like to do is read about wine, something informative — then have a light breakfast. I don’t like typical breakfast foods, I prefer a green smoothie and a shot of espresso. I head to work at 10 a.m. and start with wine orders and meetings. I normally have a quick lunch at around 1 p.m. or so, then finish up other business day tasks. The restaurant opens at 5:30 p.m. and I stay until we close, which is typically around 1 a.m. It’s a long day, but I really enjoy my job so it flies by.
How do you sustain your energy for that long?
I start off by riding my bike to work everyday. While I’m there I keep myself going by climbing in and out of our wine cellar, and staying busy with everyday tasks. I love espresso, so that helps me power through too. The key for me is to keep moving to keep energy and focus.
Anything edible or drinkable that helps you keep moving?
I consider what takes away my energy and try to avoid those foods. Usually lots of pasta and greens by day instead of fried stuff and heavier meats. My espresso intake can average out to four of five shots throughout the day, and that early green juice helps.
What personal practices and exercises do you incorporate into your daily life?
I’ve never been the type of guy that goes to the gym. When I was living in Colorado, skiing was a big part of my life. Any chance I got I would be outdoors on the mountain. I’d try to ski as many days as possible before heading to Frasca. Oddly it took me moving to New York to start running and cycling for reasons other than transportation. I love a good run in Central Park and have learned to modify my preferences to fit my New York lifestyle. When I can, I jump on a plane and head out for a ski trip.
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