Alanna Feeney is General Manager and Social Media Director at Dublin’s acclaimed Avenue by Nick Munier. In the latest installment of our ‘My Job & I’ series, Alanna shares with us the challenges (and the rewards!) of working in one of the country’s most renowned restaurants.
Do you remember your job interview?
I remember it like it was yesterday! I was nervous and excited in equal measure – coupled with the fact that it’s not really “traditional” for a job interview to be held in the two star Michelin Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud! However, the nerves soon diminished due to Nick’s friendliness and warmth, and the excitement of my new job soon took over!
The first thing you do when you get to work is?
Both Nick and I are creatures of habit! So coffee is always the first thing on our radar every morning before anything productive happens! The first half of my day (from 10am to 5pm) is generally based in the office where I oversee the “not so glamorous” part of my job – the paperwork! Both Nick and I will process invoices, rosters, accounts, wages, orders, oversee bookings and liaise with our Head Chef Felipe Armonia on menu planning and marketing strategies for the restaurant. We are both extremely “hands on” with the business and will work front of house from 5pm onwards so it’s a long but productive day – thankfully I love what I do so it really is a labour of love! I personally look after all of our social media accounts which I am hugely passionate about. As an independent restaurant with limited marketing budgets we have organically built up a reputation of having fun and quirky social media accounts which reflect our personalities – something I am hugely proud of! I am often mocked for having my phone surgically attached to my hand – but its literally the first thing I check in the morning and last at night to ensure our customers are being engaged with at all times.
The best thing about working at Avenue by Nick Munier is?
The best thing about working at Avenue by Nick Munier is the people I have the pleasure of working with! As twee as it sounds, we really are family, which is a blessing! As we are a small team our focus has always been on quality rather than quantity – we all act as brand ambassadors for the business even outside of working hours which showcases our passion even more. For me, this is not a “job” but a way of life! I love what I do and am so proud to be part of the team at Avenue by Nick Munier – a place that I genuinely think is unique and so special. As General Manager in a Michelin Recommended Restaurant, no two days are ever the same! The diversity keeps everything exciting and fresh. I definitely can never call my role “boring”. Our regular customers have become friends and engaging with them on a daily basis is a pleasure. As a major foodie too, I always get the added perk of tasting all the new dishes our dynamic team in the kitchen are producing (not good for the waist line but hey!)
Tell us about your dress code and, if informal, where do you normally shop for work attire?
I have always loved fashion and only recently found out that one of my relatives, Carmel Snow, was once the Editor-in-Chief of Harpers Bazaar and U.S Vogue many moons ago, which possibly explains my addiction to fashion magazines! Despite admiring new looks on the glossy mags, I tend to have quite a distinctive style in that I love clean lines and generally quite structured clothes which works well for my shape. Diversity is key though, and despite my love of skirts, dresses & heels, I always tend to add a “tomboyish” edge to my look (possibly a homage to my youth!). I absolutely love “Divine Boutique” in Maynooth, which is owned by the fabulous Mary Greene, and stocks amazing affordable fashion pieces. I purchase both my work and casual clothes from Divine, and tend to use accessories or different make up looks to change the appearance of an outfit to keep it fresh.
The toughest aspect of your job is?
The toughest aspect of the job would undoubtedly be the long hours which can be problematic for anyone in hospitality, particularly if you have children. However, my 2 boys love dining in the restaurant and are very proud of their mommy, so it makes it all worth while! You need to be fit, alert and have plenty of stamina in this business!
The biggest influence on your career so far is?
As a child my parents instilled a strong work ethic in me and my siblings –a trait which I have carried with me to this day. We were always taught to put 110% into anything we do, and to ensure that whatever path we chose career wise, that we loved it. We were never scared of hard work and from the age of four were assisting in the family business (I kid you not, pardon the pun!). Aside from my parents, the biggest influence in my career to date has undoubtedly been Nick Munier. Nick believed in me and my capabilities and gave me a unique opportunity to work with him. Creatively we gelled from day one, and he has taught me so much on a practical level from his many years in the Michelin Restaurant world with Marco. It is an absolute pleasure to work with him on a daily basis.
When you were a kid what did you want to be ……?
Growing up I loved animals, so had a yearning to be a vet- until I realised early on that I wouldn’t be able for the heartbreak of putting an animal down. I always loved History of Art and aspired to study that field, however my life took on a different direction! It’s quite ironic that part of my work nowadays is helping promote Nick’s art work, which hangs in the restaurant, so I guess everything happens for a reason!
What would be your dream job be if you weren’t doing what you do now?
Does it sound corny to say I have my dream job?! I love what I do, I adore the people I work with and in all honesty I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else! I genuinely believe (particularly since February 2016 when both Nick and I took a more hands on approach to the day to day management of the business) that we have created a hub for foodies in Dublin, with warmth and genuine passion and a love for excellence in food and service. As I said previously, with a job as diverse as mine, no two days are the same. I love the fact that I get to travel to beautiful places, eat in some of the most amazing restaurants in the world and work in an industry I am truly passionate about.
How do you do to relax when you are not working?
Sundays are generally my “day of rest”, although, more often than not, they are spent on a rugby pitch watching my two boys training. Aside from that, I enjoy going to the cinema, relaxing with a glass of vino in Cavistons, or indulging in some delicious food in my favourite spots Yamamori, Pigeon House or Kinara. Truthfully however, I am always focused on something related to the business even on my days off – be it the social media or looking at other restaurants or businesses abroad to get ideas for future projects.
The place yourself and colleagues go to let your hair down after a hard week’s work?
Generally it’s so late by the time we finish up that an after work drink in our own HQ is what’s called for: God bless the Gin Trolley at Avenue by Nick Munier! Other than that, we try to all get out a couple of times a year for staff bonding nights which usually kick start with dinner followed by drinks and dancing – what’s rare is wonderful!
You can visit Alanna, Nick and their team by booking here.