City Journal: Grand Opening
The Ritz-Carlton’s got a new owner (and soon, a new name), but the friendly face out front isn’t going anywhere.
1. Checking In Pashoian started at the Ritz in 1947 as an elevator operator. After two weeks of ups and downs, the 19-year-old rookie was moved to the door, where he worked as bellman and doorman. A decade later, Pashoian got his own full-time post at the Newbury Street entrance (today he mans the Arlington side). He recalls getting his hair cut the day he applied at the hotel. “I told my barber it was just going to be a summertime job,” he says. “But it turned out it was a lifetime one.”
2. Learners Permitted When he started at the hotel, Pashoian didn’t know how to drive. He soon learned under the tutelage of the supervising doorman, who let his young employee get a feel for the clogged city streets while on the clock. “He let me drive the guests’ cars around: Cadillacs and Packards and LaSalles and Mercedeses,” he says. “I never had a license, but that was where I learned.”
3. Seeing Stars Over the years, Pashoian has opened the door for countless celebrities, from Lana Turner to Jackie Kennedy (who, he says, always remembered his name). A 1948 visit from Winston Churchill stands out. “The lobby was filled that day, and he stood on the third step going up to the restaurant and gave everybody the victory sign.”
4. Buttoned Up Pashoian has worn at least five different uniforms, starting with a slim, midnight blue jacket with gold pinstripes. Today’s royal blue tuxedo, complete with tails and a doorman’s hat, “might be a little splashy,” Pashoian admits, but he believes it to be vastly superior to the Four Seasons’ brown summer get-ups. “That’s an awful color.”
5. Swinging Doors Used to be that guests rolled in and out on a predictable schedule. By 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday, for instance, shortly after the last train had rumbled into town, Pashoian’s door would be still for the evening. Now the Ritz stays hopping all day and all night. “We never had the kind of business we have today,” he says.