Jenny Toomer knows hotels. She’s worked in the hospitality industry for 28 years, starting at the Fairmont Hotel at Nob Hill in San Francisco. She’s now the general manager of Napa’s River Terrace Inn.
“The people are what make hospitality so unique, as the players are always changing,” said Toomer. “We interact with such a mixed personality of guests, associates, clients and partners that it’s never a dull day. I love all the characters that we meet, and the stories they bring!”
1. What was your childhood ambition?
To be a truck driver, but only to deliver oranges.
2. What was your first job?
Picking potatoes in Aroostook County (Northern Maine). Every year as a child all the schools in the county closed down beginning in August so they could help in the harvest. We went back to school once all the potatoes were out of the ground.
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3. How did you get into the hospitality industry?
I moved to San Francisco with a roommate from Boston. I took a job at a restaurant in North Beach where a friend had a friend who was a manager at Mason’s (restaurant), located in the Fairmont. I moved from the restaurant to catering to sales and the rest is history.
4. What is the biggest challenge the hospitality industry has faced?
COVID rewrote the world of hospitality. It continues to impact us as so many left our industry; staffing levels are still challenged.
5. Who do you most admire in the business world?
Walt Disney. A visionary, he set and continues to keep high service standards. His name makes you immediately smile and reminisce about your childhood, while his company continues to grow.
6. What’s the best part about your job at River Terrace?
Celebrating the wins! Reading the wonderful reviews from guests. Recognizing those team-members who go above and beyond to take care of our guests. Meeting our revenue goals, which makes everything so much brighter!
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7. What is your advice to someone who’s looking to get into the hospitality industry?
It’s an amazing industry that requires you to have that “service gene.”
You’ll need to understand that your personal success is directly tied to how well you can take care of others. We’re in the memory-making business, and each interaction is an opportunity to surprise and delight.
8. If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?
Provide an easier path for undocumented immigrants who are dedicated and want to be in this industry to be able to work in without fear and given opportunity to flourish.
9. What’s new at River Terrace these days?
-Patio is bustling on Friday and Saturday as that’s live music night.
-Rolling out new Happy Menu very soon.
-Brand new cruiser bikes for guests to enjoy.
10. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
That I have a commercial driver's license with a passenger endorsement for up to 20 people — meaning I can drive a 20-person bus.
The River Terrace Inn is located at 1600 Soscol Ave. in Napa. Info: 707-320-6900.