Managing Partner, Poggio
“Our industry is ever evolving, more so now than ever. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but don’t ever stray away from the basics: great food and outstanding hospitality.”
BC: Tell us a little about your journey to your current position?
AS: When I graduated from college, I moved to Paris to start my master’s in business and to live with my French boyfriend. Unable to live on coffee and baguettes alone, I managed to get a job as a server on Boulevard Montparnasse, which led to my first manager position. I then stayed five years in Paris living and breathing markets, brasseries, wine, and cafes until I returned to my hometown of Chicago, where I joined the Kimpton group. Eventually, Kimpton transferred me to San Francisco, where I met Larry Mindel of Il Fornaio. Larry promoted me to Managing Partner of Poggio, and we’ve since opened two other properties, one in Sausalito, one in Santa Barbara.
BC: How do you think your restaurant delivers a different experience to guests, and how are you apart of that vision?
AS: When I first met Larry Mindel, I was impressed by his commitment to authenticity, both in quality of food, and in his innate sense of hospitality. When people come into Poggio, it feels comfortable and familiar. We have so many regulars that we take every precaution to make sure that they feel embraced when they dine with us. Some of our customers have dined with us literally over 500 times, so that is no easy feat.
BC: What is the first moment in your career when you felt truly proud?
AS: When I was offered my first manager position in Paris. I couldn’t believe that me, a young college graduate from the suburbs of Chicago, would ever be offered the chance to manage in the most sophisticated city in the world.
BC: Three wine staples?
AS: Chateau Reyes, any vintage, a clean, dry Rose from Provence, and Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon.
BC: Do you think there is something that women uniquely bring to this industry? How would you describe that?
AS: Women are tenacious! And smart, and thoughtful. Any industry that has us is sure to succeed!
BC: Where do you go for inspiration? Similarly, who do you go to for inspiration?
AS: I am fortunate to live in one of the most exciting places in the world; I get inspiration anywhere from West Marin, through the central coast, down to Santa Barbara. I get inspiration from so many people, my chefs at the three restaurants, of course Larry Mindel, my partner and son, basically anyone who can survive and thrive in this crazy world of restaurants.
Isabella Welch is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in history. Her writing has been featured in history journals, travel blogs, arts & culture magazines, and more. Director of Editorial & Creative Development at Bob Cut Mag, lover of stories and tinto de verano, she’s usually found wandering the Headlands.