T.G.I. MAN FRIDAY: The Palms’ Joe Yalda is a new breed of butler catering to the rich, famous and royal
For many, the word “butler” evokes the image of a formal older fellow with a British accent, perhaps wearing a waistcoat. Think Batman’s Alfred Pennyworth or Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey.
But this is Las Vegas, and Joe Yalda is a new breed of butler.
Just 30 years old, Yalda — “Joe the butler” to his guests — brings a fresh face, along with a shaved head and impressive beard, to the old-school profession.
Don’t let his youth and casual nickname fool you, though. Yalda, director of butler operations for the Palms, strictly adheres to the traditional principles of his profession: discretion, attention to detail, friendliness (with boundaries).
His manners? As impeccable as his suit.
“That goes to the way my parents raised me,” Yalda says during an interview inside the Palms’ 10,000-square-foot Hardwood Suite (so named because it contains its own basketball court). “Just to be very selfless and always take care of people.”
Such traits have served him well during his five years as a butler (the first four of which were spent at Red Rock casino-resort).
“Joe Yalda is the best in the business,” says Jon Gray, former general manager of the Palms. “The level of care, personalization and passion he has for the hospitality industry and for providing a one-of-a-kind experience for our guests is unmatched.”
Now head butler at the Palms, Yalda oversees a staff of six that caters to the property’s VIP guests — a mix of executives, celebrities and politicians. The butlers unpack bags, arrange show tickets, make dinner reservations and stock the suites with guests’ favorite snacks and alcohol. They keep files on return guests so they know what room temperature they prefer, what music they like, their favorite television stations.
“It’s all about the details,” Yalda says. “With the level of guests we deal with, nothing can go wrong.”
The butlers aim to fulfill nearly any request, from the banal to the bizarre. Yalda has secured Cheetos in a variety of flavors for a snack-loving 10-year-old guest. Delivered In-N-Out burgers to high rollers in the $100,000-per-night Empathy Suite. Managed an Elf on the Shelf’s movements for a visiting family. Placed gifts overnight from the Easter Bunny.
“Whatever it takes,” he says. “We try to make it feel like home.”
A guest once asked Yalda for every pair of Jordan sneakers, models 1 to 23, in two sizes — one for the guest, one for the COO of his company. To date, this ranks as the “craziest” request Yalda has entertained.
How’d it turn out? “We picked them all out, we ordered them, we wired the money and we got the shoes.”
Yalda can’t remember how much the businessman spent for the 46 pairs, but we’re betting at least enough to purchase a decent used car.
The fact that Yalda’s job brings him into close contact with the type of guest who can easily afford such extravagances fascinates others. They figure he must have collected enough interesting anecdotes about the rich and famous to fill a book.
In fact, so many people tell Yalda he should write a book about his job that he came up with a title for the hypothetical tome: “Will There Be Anything Else? The Story of a Las Vegas Butler.”
Of course, Yalda has no plans to write that book. (“I would never,” he says.) Discretion, remember, is the butler’s most important virtue. For the same reason, Yalda doesn’t name names. He politely declines to identify any of his guests, speaking about them only in general.
“Being the Palms, it’s such a universal property,” he says. “Honestly, we cater to all walks of life.”
When asked directly, Yalda admits to having seen to the needs of royalty. “A sheik, multiple times,” he says. “Princes. Not a king.”
The chance to interact with interesting people is one of many things Yalda loves about his job. He speaks so enthusiastically about his career as a butler that it’s easy to assume he aspired to it.
Instead, Yalda happened into the field. At 16, Red Rock resort offered him a job as a busboy. He later moved into a position as bar-back. “That’s when I realized service was my favorite thing to do,” the Durango High School grad says. “I had people starting to wait to sit with me. They would only want to sit with me.”
Yalda became a butler at 25. It felt like a good fit. “I’ve always naturally catered to people,” he says. “My parents would joke about how I would always help everybody.”
Yalda’s favorite part of the job is when people come back because of him. “There’s no greater feeling, especially in the service industry,” he says. “It’s beyond flattering.”
A self-described workaholic, Yalda does make time to enjoy the Vegas food and concert scenes. (He likes sushi and hip-hop.) He also races sports cars, one of which — his own 2010 Nissan GT-R — he drives back and forth to work.
“It makes it more fun,” he says. (We bet.)
Though his business card now reads “director” and comes with a salary to match, Yalda still thinks of himself in humbler terms.
“At the end of the day,” he says, “I’m still Joe the butler.”
To offer feedback on this story or suggestions for future stories on Las Vegas Newswire, contact Managing Editor Steve Bornfeld at SBornfeld@lvcva.com.