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Natalie Sullivan

Tony Rodriguez

Food & Beverage Director | Knoebels Amusement Resort

Briefly describe your job and responsibilities.

I oversee the scheduling, product ordering and employees at three of Knoebels’ largest food stands and two smaller ones, as well as serve as mentor for two assistant managers. I provide support to my Food Service Management Team when necessary and work with our vendors on getting the best pricing available. I also hold a position on Knoebels’ Leadership Team.

What does a “typical” day at work look like for you?

A typical day for me starts with overseeing the breakfast shift at the International Food Court, ordering products for the park, storing product deliveries, and working with my team on correcting any surprise scheduling issues.

What was your first job in the hospitatliy industry?

My first job in the hospitality industry was right here at Knoebels in the Oasis Cafeteria as a dishwasher.

When did you know this industry was right for you?

I knew I was in the right business when I graduated from the dish room to the short order counter in our Alamo Restaurant. Being able to have an immediate, positive impact on someone’s day by something I made for them was a game changer.

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to where you are today.

From the dish room to Food & Beverage Director was a journey through college and a few management opportunities, but the core was always sound as I tried to become a manager like my very first boss. Mr. Hartline managed the Alamo Restaurant and was someone I wanted to emulate. Flat top haircut, pleated pants (no matter the weather) and shoes that shined like armor plating, this guy was IT. He exuded a cool demeanor but commanded and received respect.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Working creatively with my Food Service team is definitely one of the best parts of my job. Creating new menu items using existing products is like a puzzle. Sometimes something as simple as adding a different sauce can create a huge impact!

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job can also be one of the most rewarding. I feel it’s a big part of our job to get the youth that work for us ready for their NEXT job. Teaching them what is acceptable in the workplace has definitely become more difficult with societal trends, especially the electronic ones associated with cell phones!

What advice would you give to students interested in your profession?

The best advice I can give is to pick up a little something from every stop on your journey. Not just how to prepare food, but how to clean equipment, what operating systems you like the best and most importantly, how to best communicate with different age groups and nationalities to get the most out of your team when you get the opportunity to lead.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Personally, I’m most proud of my children Anthony and Sarah as they are making their way in the world. Professionally, I’d have to say I’m most proud of being the Food & Beverage Director of the amusement resort with the most Golden Ticket Awards for food. This wouldn’t be possible without having the best Food Service Team in the industry. We are known for offering an impressive variety of food items at an affordable price. Some people visit Knoebels for the main purpose of eating their way around the park!

What do you like to do outside of work?

As a former athlete, I like to try to stay in shape by playing golf and shooting hoops when possible. My fiancé and I love to visit distilleries, attend Philly sporting events and travel! I got my passport last year and we have already been to Punta Cana and are getting married in Jamaica in March of 2024!

What is your favorite food to make or eat?

I love to make breakfast, but steaks and seafood are my jam.

What’s at the top of your bucket list?

Seeing the world is definitely at the top of my list! I have brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews all over the country and we are looking forward to visiting them as well as exploring other countries.