Over the last 25 years, Dena Grunt’s professional career has spanned various specialties including human resources, organizational development, business development and hospitality management. Beginning in her senior year of high school, she took her first restaurant position as a busser at a country club 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 and commitment to food, wine, spirits and outstanding customer service was born. She then attended San Francisco State University, where Grunt graduated with a degree in speech and communications with an emphasis in HR management and organization development.
After graduating, Grunt spent the next 25 years specializing in human resources, organizational development, hospitality management and honing her love of food, wine and spirits. She was the HR Director for a large multi-state litigation law firm, as well as the senior consultant with The HR Matrix where she worked across various industries including technology, hospitality and banking. She then launched and ran a successful online retail business where she expanded her experience to include accounting, sales and marketing and operations. Always keeping her toe in the hospitality industry, she also served as a consultant to her husband’s family business, the 29 Palms Inn in Southern California, handling all aspects of Human resources, including all employee issues, management training, coaching and staffing; and ultimately becoming very involved in food costs, inventory controls, and hotel/room offerings.
In 2010 Grunt started her love affair with Nick’s Cove.
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. When she took over as Director of Operations and General Manager of Nick’s Cove in July 2010, Grunt especially enjoyed the view of Hog Island and the pristine waters of Tomales Bay on a daily basis from her office window. Over the last 11 years, serving as the President and CEO to Highway 1 Hospitality, and as proprietor of Nick’s Cove, Grunt oversaw every aspect of operations at all properties in Highway 1 Hospitality’s portfolio. In addition to managing daily operational demands at each property, Grunt provided human resources oversight, coaching, training and guidance to the general managers at each location, led marketing initiatives, and oversaw special events, budgeting and business development. From 2014 to 2018, Grunt served on the Board of Directors for the Marin County Visitors Bureau.
After her business partner passed away and her husband retired in 2020, then her son departed for college in the fall of 2021, Grunt decided it was time to pivot, and so she is no longer with Highway 1 Hospitality nor runs day-to-day operations at Nick’s Cove. This change has afforded Grunt the opportunity to focus on new ways to market Nick’s Cove, including her recently published cookbook, Table with a View: the History and Recipes of Nick’s Cove. While Grunt remains actively involved with the Nick’s Cove brand and marketing efforts, she has returned to her roots of Human Resources, executive coaching and organizational development. Destination HR Consulting provides Human Resources oversight for Nick’s Cove as well as the other properties in the Highway 1 Hospitality portfolio. Now, Grunt enjoys working part time, gardening, entertaining friends and family and has plans to travel in their new camper van. She currently resides in Petaluma with her husband of 24 years and their two dogs: Reggie and Wren.