Name: Alanna Reeves
Class Year: 2011
How long did you attend Sidwell Friends?
I attended Sidwell starting in the third grade!
What is your relationship to the food & beverage industry, and how long have you been in that role?
I’ve been working in the food & beverage industry since 2019 when I joined Sonny’s, No Kisses, and Doubles. Previously, I had been working in arts administration, but I’d always had a love of food and wanted to explore those interests. I knew that I wasn’t suited to working in a professional kitchen, but an opportunity came up for me to use my creative background to support and promote this small business and I took it! My current role is still on the administrative side of the restaurant, but I really enjoy working on events and partnering with Food & Beverage professionals.
What has stayed with you most from your Sidwell experience?
Sidwell really instilled the value of community support and mutual aid in my life. Admittedly, I’m not always volunteering, but I am often considering how I can make that time to give back and in my work, I really enjoy partnering with community members whose initiatives include mutual aid, fundraising, and unique experiences when gathering folks with common interests and backgrounds.
I first got started in Food & Bev as a Social Media Manager. I’ve been with the Sonny’s, No Kisses, and Doubles teams since 2019, but have been in my current role only since April of this year.
What do you like most about your work?
What I like most about my work is that I always get to try different things. I often joke that I’m nosy at work–I’ve always worked on small teams which offer a lot of opportunity for crossover work and to gain insight on roles that differ from mine. I really like working in a place where I can easily see and understand the responsibilities of my co-workers. It helps me be a more communicative and mindful person and it really helps when solving a problem to be able to say “If I do X, I’ll get this task done and I’ll help my co-worker succeed in their work too; If I do Y, I need to let this person know I’m behind and we need to adjust some things together.” I also love that everyone’s path and connection with the Food & Beverage Industry is so different. Some people at the restaurant might have “day jobs” in completely different fields, supporting themselves as they pursue higher education, and for some working in restaurants is their career. Still, everyone really cares about the space being its best for both guests and their co-workers.
Did the pandemic change your experiences in this industry?
The pandemic changed my role a lot. When I was first brought on, I was mostly tasked with generating content to post to Instagram and let people know that we were a fun place to dine. The pandemic meant we had to do so much more to make ourselves accessible. Like many businesses, we had to pivot a lot of our offerings to be online, so I created an e-commerce website so that people could place food (and even grocery) orders, I photographed everything we had for cataloging and merchandising, and I helped come up with fun bundles for things. I also worked with a past Kitchen Manager to host virtual cooking and baking classes which was a great way to bring in additional business, but really it was just a fun way to stay connected with the community. It was definitely a privilege to be able to do that work in a socially-distanced manner, and a lot of it from home too. I’m really grateful that I was kept on during that time and I’m grateful to the kitchen staff for doing so much hard work to provide folks a comforting meal during a scary time. Now, my role looks a little more like what I was originally hired to do, and it's still as creative and challenging.
Start exploring it now! There are so many avenues to explore this industry, it's so approachable, and there are so many things to gain from it whether you’re looking at it from a hospitality, creative, ecological, or a million other standpoints. Think a little bigger too and look at farms and vineyards, dinner series, and collectives.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Nature, art, and food are my big 3. In my free time I enjoy going on nature walks with my pup, taking pottery classes (I’m trying to make the perfect pasta bowl), honing my graphic design and studio art skills, and making sourdough bread and fresh pasta.