Where are you from?
What brought you to Atlanta?
Family – my sister and her family live out in Braselton and my boyfriend is originally from Atlanta. It’s great being closer to both of our nieces and nephews!
How long have you been with Fifth Group and La Tavola?
A year and a half – I was hired as a server and very recently got into the bartender side of things too.
What is your favorite part about being part of the La Tavola family?
It’s very neighborhood and community oriented – the restaurant has been here for 20 years and is well-established, so we’re able to make connections with both people who have known about us for a long time, and people who have never been to Atlanta. I love the restaurant’s reputation in the city and in the industry.
I also love that Fifth Group & La Tavola work with a lot of local farms and source local produce, supporting farmers in the area. Supporting the local agricultural community is personally really important to me, so it’s great to be somewhere where that’s a priority. Our food is good not just because it’s well prepared, but also because it’s high quality.
How did your career in hospitality begin?
I started in restaurants when I was 17 as a line cook at a family-owned ice cream creamery and restaurant in Sacramento (I lived in California for 13 years, which is where I went to high school & college before moving back to Oregon). And I’ve been in hospitality ever since – almost 13 years! Before coming to La Tavola, I’ve also worked in catering, management and other server roles.
When you’re not working, what do you love to do?
I’m very outdoors oriented – I try to go hiking as often as possible. I’ve enjoyed a lot of Georgia State Parks since moving here – last weekend, I went to Indian Springs State Park and High Falls. I also love beading and jewelry-making.
Any favorite hikes in Georgia?
Pretty much anywhere around Helen – there are so many great waterfalls, like Anna Ruby Falls, which is super accessible. Another favorite up north is called Panther Creek. Highly recommend!
Where in ATL do you live?
Any favorite spots in your neighborhood?
Mi Barrio and Carroll Street Café
What’s your favorite Fifth Group Restaurants dish?
Two of my go-to dishes are the grilled octopus and market steak at Ecco. They’re both always amazing! At La Tavola, I love our beet gnocchi and our mushroom ragu.
Favorite band or type of music?
I’ve been getting more into World Music – a lot of that is based on what I hear on radio stations here – Atlanta radio is so good compared to other cities. I also love hip hop and jazz. If I had to choose one band or artist, it would have to be Sam Cook.
What’s your favorite thing about Atlanta?
I love the diversity – it lends to such a great culture.
Favorite celebrity chef?
I love Alton Brown – he has reliable recipes and makes cooking and learning about food very approachable.
What are three adjectives that best describe you?
Bubbly, creative, and outgoing
Who inspires you most in your career?
I really look up to lot of the women in my family – they’re all very independent and many of them own and run businesses. I have several aunts in the bakery and wedding cake industries, and they’ve developed businesses from the ground up using talent and skill. I’d love to have my own catering company one day, and I’d definitely look to them for guidance
If you could invite one person, living or dead to dinner at a Fifth Group Restaurant, where would you take them and why?
Frida Kahlo – we’d go to Ecco and eat through the whole menu and talk about art!
Follow Donna on Instagram at @thejustsaynoclub!