Editor’s note: Women Making an Impact is a series of articles that highlights successful women in the industry. If you would like to nominate someone for recognition please send submissions to Kristen Santoro at [email protected].
With over 18 years’ experience in the restaurant and hospitality business, Alissa Conte has recently started a new chapter in her career.
After working with TAO Group for 10 years, she has moved on to become Director of Operations – New Projects for Hakkasan Holdings. By climbing the hospitality ladder with her vast knowledge and expertise, Conte will directly oversee all restaurant expansion for the group with the goal of growing four concepts in major markets across the United States.
With a keen eye for detail and operational excellence, Conte led TAO Las Vegas to become one of the highest grossing restaurants in the US. She believes the key to success in the restaurant industry is “being relentless; hard work and persistence are a must.” She also believes in always striving to do better than she did the “day before and never settling for mediocrity.”
Nightclub & Bar Spoke with Conte to find out more about her journey and the advice she would give to young women trying to make a name for themselves in the industry.
What drew you to the nightlife industry and how did you get started?
I was a hospitality major in college and always worked in restaurants. In September of 2005, I was working for TAO Group in NYC. I had the opportunity to move with them to Las Vegas and help open TAO Restaurant and Nightclub in the Venetian Hotel. That was my first exposure to nightlife and working in that side of the industry.
What were some of the struggles you faced at the beginning of your career?
I've been extremely lucky that I have only worked for a few hospitality organizations for long periods at a time. They all have been great in really teaching me about the business and giving me the tools I needed to succeed. In the beginning I think the hardest part for me was finding the balance between being aggressive and getting things done without being labeled a something inappropriate women are often referred to. I tried to make everyone happy all the time and I learned quickly that didn't work. I realized that you can be aggressive and respectful. I've never asked anyone to do anything I wouldn't do for them, but the expectations are high and there isn't a lot of room for excuses. Not everyone gets that, but I think if you do it consistently and with respect for the people who work for you and with you, you generally get good results.
What has been your greatest career achievement?
I think for me so far it’s been opening TAO, and then LAVO Las Vegas and running two of the top five highest grossing restaurants in the country for 8 years. There is so much more I want to do, but that felt pretty good.
What advice would you give to women trying to make a name for themselves in the nightlife industry?
Stay true to yourself, your values and your beliefs. Don't ever compromise yourself and what you believe in. It’s not an easy. You need thick skin and you need to be confident in yourself and in your abilities. And always, always, follow your gut and your instincts. They will never lead you wrong - although I feel that way about anything you do in life, not just in work.
What is your favorite part of what you do and why?
The inconsistency is my favorite part. Every day is different. You never have an idea of how the day will go, who you will meet or what you will be required to do. It keeps it fun and it keeps it interesting.
Editor's note: Alissa's sister Kristin Conte is also making an impact. See her article HERE.