Jim Grise: "Batman’’s Alfred provided inspiration 

Most children who watched "Batman" growing up were inspired to explore the far reaches of their imaginations, envisioning themselves as "caped crusaders" on a mission to fight crime and make the streets safe for all citizens.

Jim Grise, founder of Jim Grise Staffing, had a decidedly different take to the iconic popular culture show.

"When I was 5 years old and watching ‘Batman’ I knew what I wanted to be," Grise said. "This may sound funny, but I saw Alfred the butler, and I liked everything about him, and I just knew that’s what I wanted to do."

It was this vision that led Grise through a series of domestic services industry jobs as an adult, where he eventually wound up as an established butler working in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights.

Grise began his professional journey as a caretaker for a sprawling oceanside estate in Hawaii in 1986.

"After caretaking in Hawaii I just kept accepting job offers that were progressively more complex and involved more personal responsibility," said Grise, a graduate of the Professional Guild of English Butlers. "Eventually I got an offer to become a butler in San Francisco in 1997, which was an opportunity I really wanted to take on."

As part of his role as household manager, Grise assumed a various array of responsibilities, from dinner arrangements to hospitality accommodations, all with the "etiquette and protocol" of a well-mannered butler.

After working at two different residences in San Francisco for seven years, and at another in Los Angeles for two years, Grise decided to move back to the Bay Area to open up his own company at the end of 2006.

Jim Grise Staffing, which formally launched in January, helps place potential candidates in the domestic services industry with Bay Area clients searching for the same assistance that Grise provided so ably as a butler.

"I toyed with the idea of opening an agency for about a year and a half," said Grise, who was named Butler of the Year in 2004 by the International Guide of Professional Butlers. "Right now just seemed like the right time to do it. It’s a small agency, so I willmake sure that all the services are highly personalized for both the candidates and my clients."

Along the way, Grise hopes to dispel some of the myths about the aloof butler.

"In the movies, all the butlers are so stiff," Grise said. "A good one is always very accommodating and helpful, even if we are always striving to stay ‘friendly, but never familiar.’"

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Will Reisman

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