Winestone Restaurant Manager, Novotel Bucharest City Centre (Romania)

Monica Peleanu

Monica Peleanu's story

The first time I went into the Sofitel Bucharest City Centre, I was just 19 and I fell in love with it, and  I decided it would be fantastic to work there! So I got an apprenticeship in the F&B department and I started in the kitchen, where I stayed for one year, then I did breakfast service, the bar and restaurant. It was a wonderful experience; I met such nice people and I had fun.

When I finished my studies, I left and worked on ships for five years and when I came home, a new Novotel was opening in the downtown area of Bucharest and I fell in love with this building – there is something about the energy of the people, they made me feel welcome and engaged.

I started working in the bar , the bar became the Winestone restaurant – wine and food, my passion! I was a sommelier on the ship and I enjoyed working with wine and going to the wineries, and it’s like that here; sometimes you attract what you want! I am in charge of about ten people.

Before we opened, we went to Romania’s wineries; it was an opportunity for me to find out about Romanian wine – on the ship, we had international wine. I went to Dealu Mare, Dragasani, and wine producing areas all over Romania. It was such a pleasure to create the wine list and my team and I also made our own wine – our house red and white wines are made by us!

The wine industry in Romania is growing. Before, it was mostly sweet wine and not so good, and during the communist period, we didn’t export it, but now it is getting better and better, and you can find it in London and elsewhere.

It was difficult during the pandemic that’s why Accor is great, they kept all the employees and made us feel that we belong, that we are important to them, and they continued to pay us. I love that Accor cares about employees; it was very touching during lockdowns because they kept in touch with us and made sure we are OK and our families.

During lockdown, we did something wonderful – through the Winestone Facebook page we kept in touch with our community and we made some videos of me talking to the wine makers. Also, because we were  not allowed to serve on site, we put some tables on Victoria Street, the main street of Bucharest. We met a lot of people that way and they are now our loyal guests.

I love that my guests are my family – they don’t say they are coming to Winestone, they say they are coming to Monica, it’s very touching. There is a big office building near our hotel; it is important that when a guest enjoys their meal and the atmosphere, they tell their colleagues and one day a new employee in this building came and asked about the restaurant in the hotel, La Monica! He didn’t remember the name of the restaurant, he remembered my name!

I love that we meet new people and we have a lovely time together; hospitality is my life, I cannot work in an office, I get energy from talking with people.

My proudest moment, when I was just 19, during my first year in Sofitel, I was employee of the year. My prize was a week in Paris; I had never left Romania and it was my first job – I was so proud of myself! From then on, I had a dream that I will always travel at least twice a year and to one location I’ve never visited, and that is what I’m doing; my prize inspired me to travel.

A Heartist® makes people feel good, that when they are here, they are safe, loved, the food is fantastic, the wine is phenomenal, we make them feel welcome. And sometimes we give people a surprise. A few weeks ago I heard that it was the birthday of one of my colleagues, so I bought some little cakes and we all went to his office. He was surprised because he didn’t want anyone to know – but also very touched. We make nice surprises for guests and colleagues because we are like a family.

Anyone who is new to hospitality should work for Accor because it is such a fantastic community of people, we have sisters and brothers all over the world and we can keep in touch. It is not a stressful sector, it is fun and you are working with people who are very open, you feel like you belong.

It is worth working in different departments to see where you fit in best. If you want to work with people, face to face, you can be on the front line but if that doesn’t feel right, you can be behind the scenes, back of house, doing events, sales, reservations. Some people are shy and don’t want to speak with guests directly; the best way is to test.

  • Monica Peleanu
  • Winestone Restaurant Manager
  • Novotel Bucharest City Centre (Romania)

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