Over the last 18 years 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. During 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 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.
Now, as President of Nick’s Cove in Marshall and La Condesa Napa Valley in St. Helena, Calif., Grunt oversees every aspect of operations at both properties. In addition to managing the day-to-day operational demands, she regularly meets with and manages each location’s staff, leads marketing initiatives, and oversees special events, budgeting and business development. As of January, 2014, Grunt is serving a two-year term on the Board of Directors for the Marin CVB, and she also greatly enjoys attending hospitality conferences and events and speaking on group panels whenever possible.
“I want our guests to immediately unwind when they visit one of our properties —be it in one of our cozy cottages at Nick’s Cove or over a margarita at the bar at La Condesa,” Grunt said. “So many of our guests—myself included—create memories at these places and we want them to connect with and enjoy the surroundings when they visit.”
When it comes to Nick’s Cove, Grunt’s 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 Tomales Bay on a daily basis from her office window. Now that she is the President of two Bay Area properties, she still serves as the “face” of Nick’s Cove, overseeing every aspect of the operations of the restaurant and the 12 luxury cottages, and ensuring that everything comes together for an excellent guest experience.
Grunt began her career at 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 industry, she also served as a consultant to her husband’s family business, the 29 Palms Inn in Southern California, serving as a strategic business partner for her mother-in-law, the HR manager and handling employee issues, management training and staffing; and ultimately becoming 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.