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Phil the Doorman at the Hyatt: 'He's the Statue of Liberty for Jacksonville'

11:07 PM, Feb 22, 2011   |    comments
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Video: 'He's the Statue of Liberty for Jacksonville'

Phil Patterson is Jacksonville's doorman

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Phil Patterson thinks of himself as a performer and his stage is the front door at the downtown Hyatt.

"Everyone just calls me Phil from Jacksonville," he said.

If you've ever walked, jogged or driven past the Hyatt on the river, you've probably seen, heard or spoken to him.

But Phil finds it tough to stop even for a minute.

"You ladies keep that smile on your face," he says to a group while he holds the door open.

One responds by saying thanks.

"I don't mind being kind," he said rght back with a huge smile.

That's his catch phrase. If you watch him, and stop and listen to him during his daily routine at work you'll hear him say, "I don't mind being kind" 100 times.

"I'm the first person these people see, I mean the first person," he said.

And he is. With all the tourists and business travelers that come through the city, if they stay at the downtown Hyatt, they meet Phil.

"Every time I come here, I look forward to seeing him," said a Hyatt guest in from Washington, D.C.

Phil shook the man's hand, picked up his luggage and started up a conversation.

He knows many folks' first thoughts of Jacksonville will be about him. "That's a big impression I have to put on those guests," he said.

But before the interview goes any further, a guest comes out needing a cab. And the performance begins again.

"Where are you heading ma'am?"

"The airport."

"Yes, ma'am," and with that, he blows on his whistle - audible from the Main Street Bridge - and signals for a cab.

It's a get-your-butt-over-here kind of gesture he makes, with a point and a hip thrust.

"Sometimes you have to be a little forceful with these guys," he said. "When my whistle blows they come quick, fast and in a hurry."

"Thank you so much," the woman said as she got in the cab.

Before Phil closed her door, he told her, "I don't mind being kind."

The daily show he gives during work has won him some pretty impressive awards, including the biggest of them all. "I would call it the Oscar Award," he said.

It's the Rose Award, which recognizes the most outstanding hospitality worker of the 60,000 in Northeast Florida.

He started seven years ago at the Hyatt Downtown, though he's been in Jacksonville hospitality he says for the last two decades. "I started here as a houseman," he was hired as a housekeeper to start.

But it wasn't long before he was promoted to a new job. His energy earned him four promotions in six months, then his boss decided to talk to him.

"I asked him, 'what is your dream'," said manager Mirjana Grbic.

"'The door, that is my dream, that is the dream'," is how Phil says he replied.

There were no openings at the time, but three years later, Phil got his chance. "I saw so many wonderful people coming through these doors and I wanted to meet some of them."

He greets downtown joggers with bottles of water and patrons with a handshake. Grbic even said she thinks Phil has become a downtown icon:

"He's the Statue of Liberty for Jacksonville."

He's nice for nice's sake. A friendly face for weary travelers and excited vacationers. Why?

"I don't mind being kind," he said.

First Coast News

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