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My First Restaurant (PR) Job: From News Reporter to Bonanno Concepts

A month into her new position, Liz Kotalik has become part of the Bonanno restaurant family.
A month into her new position, Liz Kotalik has become part of the Bonanno restaurant family.
Liz Kotalik
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As it did many people, the pandemic prompted Liz Kotalik to make a major career change, jumping from the fast-paced world of local news to a completely new environment: the restaurant industry. One month into her new position as public relations manager for Bonanno Concepts, which includes Mizuna, Luca, Osteria Marco, Vesper Lounge, Milk Market and more, she shares some insider info about the job so far.

Job: Public Relations Manager

Where: Bonanno Concepts Restaurant Family

When I started: June 21

About the company: Bonanno Concepts is a family-run restaurant group in Denver owned by chef Frank Bonanno and his amazing wife, Jacqueline, that began in 2001 with the opening of Mizuna. Together, they currently own nine restaurants along with the Denver Milk Market food hall.

How I got the job: After working in the local news industry for almost ten years, I was becoming increasingly exhausted by the grind. It’s hard to think about leaving a job that you’re so used to, but I knew I needed something different. I was looking for months, and nothing was truly exciting until this opportunity popped up. Marketing director Olivia Moffett and I met a few days later and clicked immediately. After learning more about the Bonannos' values, I knew this was the perfect fit…plus, it doesn’t hurt that I’m constantly surrounded by Frank’s amazing food!

What I do: I handle media inquiries for all Bonanno Concepts restaurants. I am also building Frank’s YouTube channel, which has been so fun. We have already produced a video on how to make the Nashville hot chicken recipe used at Lou's Food Bar and Denver Milk Market. We’re in the process of making eight more videos highlighting the stories behind the other restaurants.

What's surprised me: The stories. Every one of Frank and Jacqueline’s concepts highlights a very specific moment or passion in their lives. Luca and Osteria Marco are each named after the Bonannos' sons. All the concepts in Milk Market are representative of family members, cooking trips or fun anecdotes. Salt & Grinder was created based on Frank’s childhood in New Jersey. Everything is done with a purpose, which makes it all so special.

Most memorable experience (so far): My husband and I went to the fanciest meal of our lives within my first week of working for the Bonannos. They treated us to dinner at their flagship restaurant, Mizuna, and I’ve never felt so fabulous. We chose to try the chef’s tasting and pairing menu, which I normally wouldn’t do because I’m not an adventurous eater, but it was such a great experience. I had duck for the first time. And caviar…lots of caviar. Highly recommend!

Do you have a great story about your first restaurant job in Denver? Let us know at cafe@westword.com.

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