- Emily Goldfischer
A Day in the Life: Daria Duraj, F&B Manager, Andaz London Liverpool Street, a Concept by Hyatt
Meet Daria Duraj who moved to London from her native Poland after graduating from college to join her cousin and sister. As they were working in hospitality, it was a natural choice for Daria, too. She ended up at the Andaz London Liverpool Street, a Concept by Hyatt as a part-time waitress working events to earn money while improving her English. Daria had so much fun serving fancy dinners and making guests happy she decided to pursue events as a career. Thanks to her motivation and commitment, Daria was promoted to Team Leader in just three years. Fast forward, after 17 years and several promotions, Daria is the Food & Beverage Manager for the luxurious 267-room five-star Andaz London Liverpool Street, a Concept by Hyatt, with seven restaurants and bars and 14 meeting venues under her supervision. Not only that, but with Hyatt's support, Daria has become a leader and champion for HyPride, Hyatt’s LBGTQ+ Diversity Resources Resource Group. Discover how Daria got to where she is today and what a typical day looks like managing the F&B for this award-winning property.
A day with Daria
7:00 am I do my morning stretching, followed by a 10-12 min workout and then I run or cycle to work.
8:30 am Once in the office, I catch up with my colleague Hunor from Reservations and Hannah from Sales to go through plans for the day so we know what to expect.
9:00 am I do my daily walk around and say good morning to my teams. I like to do this to get closer to them. We always have quick chats about work or personal life. We have had many new colleagues join since the pandemic, and I enjoy getting to know them.
11:00 am Around this time, I come back to my office to focus on emails and meetings – depending on my agenda. As a Food and Beverage Manager, my schedule is not set, I’m here for my team and for our guests and their needs are unexpected. Having worked in the hotel for so many years, I know the ins and outs of the property and work every day to teach my team. Some of our meetings take place on regular basis, such as our weekly F&B meeting with Managers and Chefs, Marketing meeting, Health and Safety meeting, and Operations meeting.
12 noon I pay a lot of attention to my well-being, I always take my breaks regularly and have lunch between 12-1 pm. These 30 minutes are my time to recharge or get any personal admin done.
1 pm Wedding Market brainstorming. The hotel has 14 different event spaces, including the Grade II listed ballroom named 1901, which is steeped in history and offers a stunning visual backdrop. Its original, stained glass dome has withstood the test of time, surviving two world wars, and adds a touch of drama and elegance to any social event or conference. It's the perfect setting for weddings, gala dinners, and receptions. While the hotel is typically bustling with corporate groups during the week due to its location in the heart of the City of London, weekends present an excellent opportunity to expand our reach into the social market. Given the room's unique features such as the beautiful white crown moldings, tall ceilings, and marble floors, we have decided to really drill down on the wedding market. We have focused further by marketing towards LGBTQ+ weddings, which aligns perfectly with our brand ethos––'Andaz' means personal style in Hindi––and our team's commitment to being their true selves, creating a welcoming atmosphere for all of our guests.
3:00 pm Team meeting to review plans for a special event in the Andaz Lounge to celebrate Lesbian Visibility Week. Together with my team, we have created special cocktails, food, and entertainment for this occasion. I can’t wait to see the final result!
4:00 pm Spend time reviewing the P & L of the different outlets and work on any issues related to concept, staffing, or procurement. I love solving problems and coming up with solutions! The range of our spaces is amazing––from modern studios to our original Masonic Temple, which dates back to 1912. Magnificent marble and original masonic chairs bring to life the history of the room. The Temple has been used for photoshoots, location filming, debates, presentations, and themed dinners. Having so many options for events lets me lean into my creative side and I LOVE IT!
5:00 pm Phone call with a VIP that has a big group coming in next month. Generally, most of my afternoons are spent meeting with VIPs, helping to support colleagues, and preparing for big events. I am on hand to support my colleagues at any time. I trust my teams and I know that they are doing their best to take care of our guests and to provide the best service.
6:00 pm Usually this marks the end of my workday, but I am often going out to other London venues in the evenings to get inspiration for our events, restaurants, and bars.
Wow, I love the variety of your role and the mix of responsibilities from training to creating event concepts. What is one of the most important skills to be successful as a Food & Beverage Manager?
Organization. Every detail is crucial to keep things running smoothly. We have 14 different spaces and sometimes, in a wedding, for example, we will have just 90 minutes to change the space from a ceremony setting to a sit-down dinner. Set up needs to be perfect. The chef and kitchen team needs to know. The second most important skill is being a good communicator. Some days I might be dealing with 200 different people, no exaggeration!
How have you been successful in getting promotions and more responsibilities? What advice would you give other women looking to move up in F&B?
I am passionate about my job but also disciplined. Once I mastered the management role, I was driven to get more responsibilities and became an Assistant Manager in Private Dining and Events. When the opportunity came to become Head of the Events Department––I didn't hesitate and asked for it! Even during the 2020-2021 hotel closures due to Covid-19, I carried on pushing myself, leading a project to create a new structure in the food and beverage department. This allowed me to become a Food & Beverage Manager. You have to advocate for yourself and keep challenging yourself. Ask for projects that expose you to the responsibilities you will need for the next role––this is what puts you in the prime position for a promotion.
What is your favorite part of your role?
Coming up with new ideas! I love bringing something new to our restaurants or creating themed packages for meetings. Our promotions range from being really colorful and reflective of the Andaz brand to incorporating sustainability, we recently created a themed event around supporting bees and local honey. I like to dig into the details of things like how we present the check, create cocktails, working with suppliers to create different and interesting presentations for food.
How has working at Hyatt, specifically the Andaz brand, allowed you to grow and be your authentic self?
I've always been proud of who I am and coming out at work never interfered with my career because the people I work for are driven by results and your sexual orientation does not impact how good you are at your job. I’m glad to be working for Hyatt as the company fights for and supports underrepresented groups.
Have you had allies that support you and the LGBTQ+ community during your Hyatt journey?
Thanks to my colleagues, I have always felt supported. They have seen potential in me and they make me believe in myself! Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am right now and I will be always grateful for them. I appreciate the HyPride as well as the Women@Hyatt programs, which raise awareness for my needs as a gay woman and allow me to be myself at work. These efforts work hand in hand, I can inspire and support others to have the strength to come out when it is the right time for them. Being gay or a woman, or both, should not stop you from having a great career! I want to build a better workplace and offer my support to those who are afraid to be themselves.
Thank you for sharing your day with us, Daria!