Updated March 27 at 6:24am
food service

Camille’s fires wait staff looking for ‘fresh blood’


PROVIDENCE – Camille’s, the historic Italian restaurant on Federal Hill, fired six of its wait staff to get some “fresh blood” in following renovations to the lounge and kitchen, General Manager Michael Degnan told Providence Business News.

“I’m a believer in business. I want people to come and try this 90-year old restaurant icon,” he said. Degnan said he already has new staff lined up to replace the six that were terminated.

“It was a bold move. The ones I had were very talented - I would never say they’re not. It’s just sometimes … complacency. It’s just it was time for some change,” he said.

When asked by PBN if the move was indicative of financial trouble, he said:

“Financial trouble, absolutely, positively not. We’re owned by a corporation that’s very solvent. I just wanted some change – go in a different direction, [get] some fresh blood in here.”

The restaurant closed for three weeks, Jan. 1 to Jan. 21, to renovate the lounge and the kitchen: new banquettes in the lounge, a paint job and a brand-new kitchen.

“[We wanted to] modernize it; clean it; polish it. We want it to be almost like a hospital – so clean in here every day. That’s my ambition. I think that sets a nice example in this industry - people like to see clean,” he said.

Although Camille’s isn’t participating in Restaurant Weeks this winter due to the renovations, it plans on participating in the summer event.

Camille’s was established in 1914, originally at 174 Atwells Ave. It moved in 1919 to its current location at 71 Bradford St.


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How outrageous is that! That's one restaurant I won't be patronizing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 | Report this

I cant believe this article! What is more disturbing than the firings is that a "corporation" would not only hire this idiot as a manager but allow him to make such ridiculous and unprofessional comments. First lets start with the "bold" move, it wasn't bold, it was risky. You have some of the most prominent business and political people in the state who go into this establishment looking for the same people to wait on them week after week. Next, you actually have the nerve to call these men who work night after night waiting on other people "complacent". When you wait on people for $2.89 an hour you have no time to be complacent!! Because if you are you don't make any money, because that $2.89 does not pay your bills or put your children through college! Now lets move on to the "cleaning up" comment of this article. How ridiculous does this sound? You want it to be like a hospital? Really? Are we running an operating room or running a fine dining establishment? Yes, people like to eat in a clean restaurant however they also like to eat in a restaurant that has great food and great service. The only bold move the owner of Camille's should be making is putting its staff back on who has kept this iconic restaurant what it is meant to be...historical. The only change that may work for Camille's is putting its General Manager Michael Degnan in the unemployement line.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 | Report this

Wow- Who would want to go to a restaurant that is known for treating its employees like crap - even admitting they were good servers but they are looking for "new blood"? Definitely not me. I'll be sure to tell my friends, too.

Friday, January 27, 2012 | Report this

WOW - that is one restaurant I will no longer be eating at in the future. How can a manager be empowered to say such things to a reporter? How about letting the employees know that it is a new era in the restaurant and see how they react and change before you fire them. RI's unemployment is high enough and this company fires good workers for such a trivial reason as wanting "fresh blood". I wonder how many patrons ate there because of these workers?

Monday, January 30, 2012 | Report this

The people who previously posted fit into one ore more of the following categories. They have an axe to grind, don't regularly patronize Camille's, know anything about the restaurant business or know exactly what was going on. This manager may not have sugarcoated it the way that most people do these days in polite society but this was definitely the right thing to do. Camille's was my favorite restaurant for many years. Lunch there was a quiet respite from the working week. However the service, especially at lunch, had become AWFUL. Not everyone was like this but several of them were slow, distracted, inattentive and not fitting the tradition and attitude of the people that served there, cooked there, ate there and that have eaten there for almost a century. If there was any "financial trouble" it was because certain members of the wait staff were driving business away. I went there today and it was much better. Thank-You Michael Degnan! I have my favorite place for lunch back.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | Report this
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