When it comes to hospitality, Paul Passig can do just about anything.
He’s the food and beverage manager at the Hotel Phillips, 106 W. 12th St., in Kansas City, Mo., but his true passion is decorating for and setting up events. Whether he’s representing the hotel on-site or off-site, Passig has a lot of enthusiasm for his work and his employer.
“Hotel Phillips is amazing. The property is outstanding, the restaurant is great.” Passig says. “… The best part of my job is the freedom of creation. I get to look at a space and say, ‘Let’s try some giant chess pieces.’ And then I buy chess pieces and make cool things. … I’m a very lucky guy.”
He smiles widely as he talks about his work on Party Arty, Kansas City Fashion Week, the annual wreath contest by DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDs), and weddings at the hotel.
His enthusiasm began early in his adult life. Passig grew up in Vail, Colorado, and entered college at the age of 16 — he earned his associate’s degree before he had graduated from high school. He participated in a national program called ProStart, which focuses on developing leaders in the restaurant and food service industry. That gave him the opportunity to go to college full time for the last two years of his high school career.
He went on from there to get his degree from Johnson & Wales University and even spent time studying pastry-making in Paris. He moved to Kansas City “for love, to follow my partner, to be with him and start a life and a family.”
Passig has been in Kansas City, and with the Hotel Phillips, for just over a year.
“I love this town. … I love the food scene. … It is a diamond in the rough that is cutting itself to be a perfect gem very quickly,” he says. He fell hard for the Hotel Phillips as well. “We’re a very Art Deco, boutique-style hotel. We offer outstanding customer service and food, but also this quaint, antique charm.”
He points out that the hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places and talks about the mysterious tunnel in his office that is reputed to be part of a network built during the Prohibition era. He also mentions that the hotel’s ground floor was at one time a haberdashery run by Harry S. Truman.
Hotel Phillips, an Executive Member of the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, has graciously hosted several business-to-business networking events for the group.
Another way that the hotel shows its LGBT support is to offer a “Pride Package” that is exclusively for same-sex couples staying there.
The hotel also offers internships for culinary and hospitality-based students from around the world and has a yearly artist-in-residence program that features local artists from different disciplines.
“They get studio space in the haberdashery — where Truman was! — and we showcase their art throughout the hotel,” Passig said. “We throw them a massive party. Guests can talk to the artists — they’re always here!”
Overall, Passig’s attitude is positive and grateful. “I love what I do, where I’m at, who I am,” he said. “I love where I’ve ended up in life. I followed what I loved. … I’ve been very, very lucky in finding happiness.”
Photo credit: Landon Vonderschmidt
The Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MAGLCC) is an organization that advocates, promotes and facilitates the success of the LGBT business community and its allies. Learn more at MAGLCC.org.