Meet Jennifer Kostecki

My early life began in the small Midwestern town of Rantoul, IL.  I am the second oldest of four children.  My mother worked for the United States Air Force, teaching a course on Minuteman Missiles, while my father worked in a window factory while finishing his master’s degree.  We never had lavish things and could never compete with our friends for the next name brand item, but we did have an extremely loving home, enriched with nurturing and support.  In looking at my siblings now, we could not be any more different.  Our parents prided us on being our own driving force and supported who we were as individuals.  I ran along the side of the free-spirited adventurer.  I was much like a little birdie fluttering around who, at this point, has become a phoenix in my own right.

We moved to Maryland when I was 12.  By the age of 14, I was able to navigate in a Mid-Atlantic state, where I began waiting tables in a Greek restaurant.  I couldn’t understand entirely what the owners were yelling in Greek but I knew how to stay busy and out of their way.  I continued working in restaurants until I graduated.  I spent a week with my best friend in Ocean City, Maryland when we decided there was no way we were going back home after that sweet, salty taste of freedom so we didn’t.  I remained there for a little over a year when I met the first love of my life.  He was a professional skier from PA who convinced me to move 3000 miles away on the other end of RT 50 to South Lake Tahoe, CA.

I started off waiting tables at an Irish pub and eventually I picked up a second job at 19, managing a movie theatre.  After a skiing injury, my boyfriend’s glory days were over and we needed to figure out our means to survive because we weren’t making it on my salary.  He began delivering pizzas when he overheard the owner say he wanted to sell the pizza shop.  After a few conversations and phone calls, we were the proud owners of New York Pizza over-looking Heavenly Ski Resort.  I was only 21 and had no idea what I was getting myself into but we were very successful and that’s when I knew what I was meant for.

Decided the Hospitality business was my path.

Four years later, we sold the shop and went our separate ways.  I ended up back on the east coast.  Shortly thereafter I met my best friend who is now my ex-husband and we share custody of our amazing 10-year-old son Elijah.  I continued working in restaurants, each time successfully moving up the ladder.  First as a Kitchen Manager for Applebee’s to a General Manager at Panera Bread.  To gain different experiences I moved on to become a General Manager for Bertucci’s, when a friend of mine introduced me to H5H.  It was an easy sell because it felt very structured and organized which brought me a sense of excitement to see what’s next or what possibilities could arise.

What are my goals?

Currently, I am very hyped and ecstatic about the changes in Newark.  I have loved watching things grow and working diligently at finding a home.

Since I have had the taste of ownership, in a far-off land it is a dream of mine to start my own café/gift shop.  I would love a space to drink tea enveloped in a peaceful, warming aesthetic environment selling local art, candles, refurbished furniture and crafts.  It would be a safe space that welcomes the kids and, in the evening, livens up by providing a space for local bands.

Personally, I just want to feel proud of who I am. I love knowing that I make a powerful impression on my staff and friends and I enjoy just making people happy. I live a fairly simple life where I focus mostly on my son and my work.

Who is my biggest influence?

It’s hard to narrow down one person because I feel I have been blessed to have met so many strong inspiring people, but my mother has shown me a strength no one else ever has.  She is bold and courageous.  She puts her family before anything and shows such a selfless portrait of beauty while doing that.  She is intelligent and opinionated.  She has always been there to remind me that life isn’t about weathering the storm, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Why is it important to perform on such a high level?

I feel like people should never settle for anything less than their best.  Everyone is unique and everyone learns differently.  In order to run at a high level, you have to understand that and mold the gaps in between so others can feel successful and motivated.  I feel a big win for me is when I find ways to understand individual needs and place my crew in the perfect spot.  I feel like a conductor inspiring beautiful music, and it is such an enjoyable experience.  I strive to build a team where all the members don’t just come to work, but leave here feeling like a better person because they provide a fun, exciting and great experience for our guests.  I want them “Running on positive energy”.

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