Over the last 17years of Dena Grunt's professional career in human resources and business development, she has worked in a variety of industries and has come full circle back to hospitality. At 21 she served at a local restaurant and instantly fell in love with everything about the industry from the food itself to engaging with customers, the fast-paced atmosphere and the sense of team on the dining room floor. Feeling appreciated for her hard work and her sense of personal gratification for a job well done, her dedication to food, wine and outstanding customer service was born. She continued to serve while attending San Francisco State University, later graduating with a degree in speech and communications with an emphasis in HR management and organization development.
Her history with Tomales Bay runs deep as her husband spent much of his childhood on Tomales Bay and proposed to her on Hog Island in 1996 after a day of kayaking the pristine waters. Now, as the General Manager and Director of Operations for Nick's Cove, a position she took in July 2010, Grunt enjoys views of Hog Island and the stunning Tomales Bay on a daily basis from her office window. Serving as the "face" of the property, Dena oversees every aspect of the operations of Nick's Cove restaurant and the 12 luxury cottages, ensuring all the cogs in the wheel are working for an excellent guest experience. She meets regularly with her executive team and can be found collaborating with the chef and restaurant manager; she oversees the offerings and ensures all standards are being met in the hotel as well as provides leadership to staff; she oversees all marketing initiatives, special events, budgeting and business development.
"I want guests to immediately unwind when they visit Nick's Cove—be it in one of our cozy cottages or tucked away at an intimate table in a hushed corner," Grunt said. "So many of our guests—myself included—create lifelong memories with this special place and I want them to connect with and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings when they visit."
At the restaurant, seasonal dishes are constantly changing, mirroring the ebb and flow of the tranquil Bay waters just beyond Nick's Cove's windows; one of Dena's favorite dishes is the Roasted Chicken with polenta, rosemary, sweet corn, grapes and Madeira.
She began her human resources career with a large multi-state litigation law firm located in Novato and spent the next 16 years specializing in human resources. She worked as a senior consultant with The HR Matrix where she was placed in various industries including technology, hospitality and banking. Always keeping her toe in the hospitality world, she also served as a consultant to her husband's family business, the 29 Palms Inn in Southern California, over the years, serving as the a strategic business partner for her mother-in-law, HR manager handling employee issues, management training and staffing; ultimately over the years, she became very involved in food costs, inventory controls, and hotel/room offerings. After the birth of her son in 2002, she took a break from corporate life to be a stay-at-home mom. Not completely able to stay idle, she created and ran a successful online retail business where she expanded her experience to include accounting, sales and marketing and operations.
When she's not at Nick's Cove, Grunt enjoys spending quality time with her family, Zumba, boating and entertaining friends and family at their home. She currently resides in Petaluma with her husband of 16 years and their son.