Team Spotlight: Michael Hardy
In the cool oasis of the Green Room at Auction House Market, Michael Hardy and I sat in plush wingback chairs, surrounded by elegant hanging plants and backed by the room’s focal point, a living moss wall. The room is aptly named, with its lush, green interior complemented by blue velvet and brown leather. It serves as the market’s private events space, and over the past year, it’s seen countless joyous events: gatherings, celebrations, even a wedding. Over the past year, Mike has seen just as much, if not more.
Starting as a Guest Assistant, Mike is now a Floor Supervisor, leading a team of GAs and Stewards to ensure any given shift runs smoothly, and our guests and vendor-partners receive the best possible service. Tall, young, and forever nice, Mike has a big smile and an even bigger sweet tooth — he was on a sugar cleanse when we talked and stayed strong even when I tried to share my Starburst — and he exemplifies what hospitality folk mean when they say, “Hire the smile.” We sat down to chat about his tenure at Auction House Market in the past year and how he’s grown, but not before warming up with a few rapid-fire questions.
Hometown: Pritchard, Alabama
Childhood nickname: Mikey. My dad called me that.
Favorite childhood meal: Chicken nuggets with honey mustard from Burger King. I hate McDonalds. [Editor’s note: he’s absolutely correct.]
Favorite sandwich: Muffaletta
How do you take your coffee?: I don’t drink a lot of coffee, but usually too damn sweet if I do.
Preferred mode of transport: Roller skates. I used to skate to work every day but then I got hit by two cars. Different days! One was more painful than the other. I like the danger, I like dodging people... I remember when I first got the VNLA skates. Man, you weren’t anybody if you didn’t have VNLA skates.
Alright, let’s get to the meat of it. When did you start? How did you get to where you are?
I started in March of 2018 as a Guest Assistant, a month after the market opened. Honestly, my biggest concern was just getting here on time! I really liked the aesthetic of the market. It makes me feel fancy. I’d just have a good time talking to the guests, making them feel comfortable and taken care of.
After five months, I was pulled aside by one of the managers -- I thought I was in trouble -- but he said that they recognized my work ethic and wanted to know if I was interested in becoming a Supervisor. I was definitely scared at first, fearful of how others that had been there longer would feel.
That’s real, but clearly you had something that others didn’t! How has the market changed since you started?
There’s been so much development in the management and the staff. I love our team members. The GA team here is really strong and focused on their work ethic. And the events program has really developed, too. There’s always something cool going on.
Yeah, Auction House is one of the only markets that has a dedicated private events space. How do those go?
Events are great. Sometimes I work them as a GA, sometimes I work them as a supervisor. It’s never too much to handle, and they always come out great because of the teamwork, really. New Years 2018 was one of my favorites. I had to get someone off a table, but everyone was having a great time. I love giving out comment cards and getting feedback from the people who attended the event.
I bet! Lots of fun energy. What are you most proud of accomplishing in your time at Auction House?
Getting the end of day process down. When I was training as a supervisor, ending out the day was a huge struggle. There are a lot of steps and a lot of things to keep track of, and getting it all done in a reasonable amount of time was hard. I felt really bad the first time I did it because I got confused with the numbers, but most of the mistakes are easy to fix. You just have to be extra focused. One day, all the numbers worked out, and I was like, “What! No issues?” That’s when it got easier. New one dollar bills are my enemy. Jason [Director of Private Events] tried to show me his method of rubbing a lemon on it, but it never worked…
Hah, I hear you. Counting so much is hard, but it’s also really important. What do you think makes Auction House Market different from all the other food halls?
We’re different from other markets because there are just so many options for food, and it’s all exquisite. The vibe, too, is so important. The design is beautiful, there’s so much natural light, and in the evening, the indoor lighting is dim and intimate. I love the aesthetic of this place. It’s one of the things that stood out to me from the beginning.
Yeah, the space is so beautiful and still fits any time of day. Since Auction House is so close to the Convention Center and museums, what do you hope first-time visitors take away after their first visit?
I just want to make them feel like they can and will come back. Customer service is what does that. I always try to tell people about the event space, the moss wall specifically. I don’t want people to miss it.
And the bathrooms!
What’s your favorite thing to eat at the market?
Long Chim’s pork jerky. It’s a snack, it’s subtle, it’s $8, and it’s everything it needs to be. Also, the empanadas. Crawfish etouffee is my favorite, hands down.
Oh, same, crawfish etouffee empanadas all day. What about your favorite thing to drink?
I’m not 21, so I can’t drink alcohol. I love the Naked Juices at SoLa. They just got them, and I get so sad when they’re not there. Berry Blast and Strawberry Banana, I’m not a fan of the Mango.
You gotta get your sweet fix somewhere!