November 11th marks Gatsby Valet’s 16th anniversary — our sweet 16 if you will.
Since the brand’s first contract at the Brant House restaurant and nightclub (now Citizen) at King & Brant Street, Gatsby Valet, premier provider of bespoke valet parking solutions, has become a staple at elite locations across the Greater Toronto Area.
To celebrate this milestone, Daniel Grima and I reflected on where Gatsby has been and where we’ll drive it in future.
Before we could walk, we were in-sync
Friends since 6 months of age, Daniel (co-founder of Gatsby Valet) and I spent two decades as friends —eventually also becoming business partners. Before we could even walk, we were side-by-side at Daniel’s house, where his mother babysat me. Spending time at Daniel’s house was like being at my second home.
Daniel and I attended grade school and high school together, always remaining close friends. As we grew older, we talked about starting a business together — something unique and special that could grow and become our legacy. Our shared passion for entrepreneurship brought us even closer together.
In 2004, at the ages of 19 (Daniel) and 20 (myself), we saw an opportunity in the service and hospitality industry and decided to form Gatsby Valet — a business specializing in valet parking throughout Toronto. This boutique style valet services business was focused on driving first impressions — something that we become renowned for.
The idea that sparked Gatsby Valet came from a friend who remarked about seeing a similar service offered in the USA. Knowing that Daniel and I were looking for the right business venture, he pitched the idea — and we loved it. At the time, we were reading a book titled The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses, and were following its practice of only starting a business if you could launch the idea with a $5k investment or less. After some number crunching, we saw that the idea fit within the model, and we decided to go for it — we were also enamoured by the prospect of interacting with Toronto’s elite crowd and their premium vehicles.
In drive: Gatsby Valet is launched
We were thrilled to debut the Gatsby Valet brand at our first-ever contract at Brant House in Toronto’s vibrant entertainment district. I remember obsessing over the details — what each interaction would look like, how we would differentiate our services from other valet providers.
While all of the preparation and visualization was helpful, I quickly learned that there is no substitute for on-site experience. Our early days were full of many great wins, and also some valuable learning opportunities. Daniel echoes these sentiments. He recalls focusing on the guest experience, relegating the tactical practices of actually parking and returning vehicles second. We taught our teams how to engage with guests, the importance of looking them in the eye, minding your mannerisms, and so on. This yielded great results and we applied these learnings to our future endeavours.
Since that first day, the business has grown exponentially and is now available nationwide, something we are very proud of. Even after years in the business, I still enjoy working curb side, jumping in to help the team and interact with clients — whether it be running to doors, helping guests with bags, or sharing in a playful moment with their kids. It’s a great way to lead by example, and I just love doing it, particularly during our busy season at Yorkdale Shopping Centre — it’s such a rush!
Gatsby clients gush over our superior service
We are fortunate to work with exceptional clients, one of which recently took the time to share a walk down memory lane with us from the early days of Gatsby Valet. Here’s just an excerpt:
“Great Gatsby! Happy sweet 16 to one of the best I’ve had the pleasure to work with! Greg and the team have always been open to all of my “outside the box” ideas and eager to participate in making our events extra special.
Valet is the first touchpoint with guests, and the Gatsby team are experts — eager to facilitate a superior first impression. From dressing up as Russian dancers to white rabbits from Alice in Wonderland, they have always gone above and beyond. I can’t say enough great things about Gatsby – they have been amazing to work with, completely professional, and have always facilitated anything we’ve needed, and more. Wishing you a very happy 16th anniversary and looking forward to working together for at least another 16.”
– Jen Zimmerman
Marketing, Tesla Canada
We’re blushing! We love to nurture these types of client partnerships that deliver lasting great impressions for our clients and their guests.
From Gatsby came more great opportunities
Gatsby grew from Daniel and I to over 300 employees. At the same time, so did our outlook on our careers and the importance of diversity in our service offerings.
We knew that excelling in the guest experience business didn’t begin and end with valet services — it could be parlayed into other industries. This insight is what led us to start thinking about other unique businesses, departments, and services.
“Business is all about relationships, and each business we have launched since Gatsby Valet began through bonds created with our clients” said Daniel. “They trusted us to match their unique needs with a custom solution delivered with precision and excellence.”
It was through these types of relationships, and our keen sense of market opportunities, that led us to launch subsequent brands: Carraway Traffic, Parking, Safety, and Events; Butler on Wheels; R.E.D. Staffing, S.T.A.C.S. Sanitization Tactics & Control Services, and Parkenda — all under our parent company The West Egg Group.
We are so thankful that we put in the time during our early years to think about our clients’ needs and areas of opportunities for our own business, especially now during COVID-19 when we’ve seen so many of our colleagues in event-based businesses struggling. Because The West Egg Group had diversified, we’ve been fortunate to avoid many of the economic and operational pitfalls of the pandemic.
“Sixteen years later, I can honestly say that I still get excited to work on new initiatives, whether it’s through our existing brands, or during the ideation and creation of new businesses,” said Daniel.
Through Gatsby Valet, we will disrupt the traditional valet model with an exciting new technology-first solution — coming soon to top locations at destinations in your area. We’ve been preaching this for a few years now — if you don’t have technology embedded in your company’s DNA, you won’t have staying power. Ever evolving — always innovating. That is a mantra we live (and operate) by. We are excited to say that we have a number of incredible technological innovations coming to market not only the valet industry, but also in the workforce management sector.
In addition to our focus on technology, Daniel and I will be refining our training programs to focus on service company-wide, ensuring an elevated and standardized experience at all Gatsby Valet events and contracts. At The West Egg Group, we are excited about multiple sizeable opportunities on the horizon. And within the next two years, we have plans to double the size of our company. Needless to say, there is much excitement — and work — ahead of us, and Daniel and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.
As we press forward onto our next chapter at Gatsby Valet and our other brands, Daniel and I wish to pause to thank all of our exceptional team members. Without their contributions and stellar performance, we could not have taken our brands to where they are today. We share this 16th anniversary with each of you!