Name: Abby Niznik
Occupation: Event Manager, STARR Restaurants
As Event Manager for STARR Restaurants in Philadelphia, Abby Niznik handles event sales, planning, and execution for multiple restaurant locations across the STARR portfolio. We asked Abby some questions to learn more about the ins and outs of restaurant event management.
1. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I start my day first thing in the morning by skimming emails for an emergencies or time sensitive events. By the time I get to the office, I have a mental plan of action for the day and know what will need my attention first. Planning events in a big city with lots of conventions means a mix of very last minute events and events that are planned up to a year in advance. I spend my office time answering emails, detailing events, speaking with clients over the phone and communicating with the restaurants on execution for the events I plan. During the evenings, I am on call for any event emergencies or on-site for any VIP events.
2. Why did you choose this industry?
I fell in love with the restaurant industry as a server and bartender in high school for a new restaurant that opened in my hometown. Seeing the business grow from the ground up was so much fun for me. I loved the energy of serving and interacting with my guests. My love for the industry inspired me to study hospitality management in college at Penn State.
3. Briefly describe your career path and how you got to where you are today.
I studied hospitality management in college and participated in a very inspiring women’s leadership program my junior year which provided me with amazing resources and mentors in my industry. By October of my senior year, I had accepted a position to work for Hillstone Restaurant Group as a manager after graduation. This job took me to Dallas for a 3 month intensive training followed by manager roles in Hillstone restaurants in Atlanta, Boston and Washington D.C. I transitioned to a manager role with STARR restaurants after about 3 years with Hillstone and I worked in Philadelphia at Buddakan restaurant for 2 years. After a brief stint away from the industry (3 months) I came back to work for STARR in a different role as an event manager.
4. What is your favorite part of your job?
I love that I get to experience the energy that comes with working with people and the restaurants but I still have the flexibility of more “normal” office hours. I feel so lucky to have a job that I love that also allows me to spend more time with friends and family than a restaurant manager ever allowed.
5. What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is establishing a balance between work and life. I plan events Monday- Friday during normal office hours but a very large majority of my events happen outside of those times. This makes it difficult to not always be “on” for any needs my clients or the restaurants may have.
6. What advice would you give to students interested in working in the hospitality industry?
I would advise anyone interested in the industry to be comfortable with working your way up. I was excited about being a restaurant manager but always knew I wanted a job with less night and weekend hours. By gaining experience on the floor in the restaurants first, I have a much better understanding of the execution of my events and I am so grateful for that experience.
7. What achievement are you most proud of?
I am the most proud of being a working mom! This is by far the hardest accomplishment and I am so proud of being able to have my career and provide for my son. Working full time while being a mom is such a challenge but also incredibly rewarding.
8. What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I love to spend all of my free time outside. Most weekends my family and I are hiking or headed to the beach in the summer.
9. Favorite dish to eat (or make)?
I experiment with new recipes every week! I spend so much time talking about food throughout the day that I am inspired daily for new dinner options to make for my family. This week I made an amazing spicy shrimp cauliflower rice bowl!
PA ProStart Blog
The PA ProStart Blog is for Pennsylvania students and teachers of the ProStart Program- a nationwide, two-level high school career and technical education program that teaches culinary arts and restaurant fundamentals.