Whether you've been to Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder once for a special occasion or count yourself as a regular, you've experienced the professional, personal service that's such an integral part of the restaurant's success. Even if you've only eaten dinner there a couple of times, you'll have encountered many of Frasca's staffers, who are all committed to interacting with guests — whether the staffer is co-owner-master sommelier Bobby Stuckey, chef-co-owner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, or any number of others who seem equally well ersed in the wine list, menu and minutiae of making diners happy.
Two of those Frasca veterans, Rose Votta and Peter Hoglund, were recently given promotions, not only as recognition for their excellence, but to "offer another layer of hospitality to all of our guests," as Stuckey puts it. Votta, who has been a member of the Frasca team since the restaurant opened eleven years ago, was named the new general manager this week. She first met Stuckey in Aspen, where they were both already in the hospitality industry. "I worked with Bobby at the Little Nell," she explains, "where his friendship and mentorship took hold."
She was still living in Aspen when he called to say that he was opening a new restaurant in Boulder and was looking for good front-of-house people. "It took me about thirty seconds to say yes," Votta remembers. She's now one of only two employees still at Frasca who attended the two-week orientation before the restaurant opened in August 2004.
Votta recalls that Boulder was fairly open to the new, high-end Italian restaurant in the months after it first opened, but the reservation policy took some time for residents to adjust to. "We were one of the only ones in Boulder who took reservations as early as 5:30," she says. "They weren't used to heading to dinner at seven and finding the list full."
The new GM says her focus will be staff education and mentoring, and adds that she tries to encourage hospitality as a career path. Frasca employees tend to average tenures of three to five years, so getting to know the base of regular customers — who make up about 30 percent of the restaurant's clientele — is one of her goals for new employees.
Hoglund has been with Frasca for five years and was named a partner and director of operations for Frasca Food and Wine, Inc., which includes the original Pizzeria Locale next door (but not the fast-casual branches). "I started out polishing glasses and worked my way through every position in the restaurant," he notes.
His focus will be on employee and management development, working with more than 100 employees between Frasca and Pizzeria Locale, as well as taking care of behind-the-scenes details to free employees so that they can concentrate on customer needs. He's also passionate about continuous improvement, even at an award-winning restaurant. "We want to be able to make changes faster," he explains. "We're pressing a lot on different things we can do to improve."
Although much of his time will be spent in the background, Hoglund still aims to be on the floor for dinner service at least three nights a week. "I put in 1,200 to 1,300 nights on the floor in the last few years," he says, "and I don't see that dropping to zero any time soon."
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Hoglund and Votta both agree that their promotions won't reduce the amount of time that Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson spend in the restaurant, interacting with guests. "I've seen Bobby get off a plane at five, drive home and put on a suit and be here for dinner service at seven enough times to know that won't change," Hoglund says.