Stories from Our Customers - Anthony Valletta
As COO of Mina Group, Anthony Valletta rubs elbows with celebrity partners like Food Network star Ayesha Curry and Michelin Star chef Michael Mina, and he oversees some of the nation’s most celebrated restaurants, including Bourbon Steak and the newly opened International Smoke Del Mar. But it isn’t the glamour that attracts Valletta to the hospitality industry – it’s his passion.
“I love what I do. A lot of jobs out there are very mundane, systematic. In my business, every day is different,” Valletta said. “When you’re solely reliant on predicting people’s decision making, those things always excited me. I always loved relationship-building and expanding my network and meeting great people.”
Valletta started working in hospitality at just 13 years old and has stayed committed to the business ever since. He began his career with Darden Restaurants before moving on to his own venture. He then joined Del Frisco’s, first running the Seaport location in Boston before taking on an additional Boston restaurant and others in New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Denver.
While at Del Frisco’s, he used philanthropic activity and campaigns to differentiate the restaurant brand in a crowded and competitive field, and he worked to ensure that every partner had an excellent experience.
“At the end of the day, [partners] should feel, no matter if they spend $50 or $5,000, it’s got to be the best value and return on their investment,” he said. Valletta applied this approach equally to local and national causes. But his greatest impact came after realizing that his restaurants could make an even more significant impact.
Del Frisco’s often received requests for small-dollar donations that just weren’t feasible. “How can we still give back and give back in a bigger fashion than just giving away a $100 gift card?” he wondered.
He noticed that several charitable organizations lacked strong food and beverage options at their fundraising events. He strived to change this by joining nonprofit boards and offering his industry knowledge and experience.
The innovative approach paid off. Valletta was recently named March of Dimes’ Humanitarian of the Year, helping to raise an estimated $350,000 in donations during his tenure on the organization’s board.
After Del Frisco’s, Valletta joined Mina Group, a major accomplishment that he’s achieved at just 35 years old and one that he likely celebrated with a watch.
“Every great milestone that I’ve had, it was represented by a watch,” he said. Luxury watches have been a hallmark of his personal style, and he found a new favorite in his first Sablier Grand Cru watch in 2015. He was initially drawn to his Sablier’s “beautiful-sized” concave face, “great elements of detail”, and its “crystal clean look”. But he soon discovered additional benefits.
He loved the way the watch’s crown was designed and thoughtfully placed at the 2 o’clock position as opposed to the traditional 3 o’clock position. This designed element allowed Anthony’s Sablier to move with his wrist while he frequently opened bottles of wine in his restaurants. And, within the first month of wearing his Sablier, he noticed a dry spot on his wrist (from wearing a Breitling watch) had gone away.
After receiving an extensive collection of interchangeable and multicolored straps, he realized that his watch was extremely versatile. His Sablier immediately became his go-to timepiece for all activities.
“Sablier became a watch I wear every day no matter what I’m doing,” he said. Previously, he updated his watch collection with a new piece every 18 months. Since experiencing Sablier, he has gone three years without purchasing a new watch.
He’s also noticed intrigue from some of the watch connoisseurs who frequent Mina Group restaurants. “A guy wearing a $100,000 watch was looking at my watch and asking, ‘What’s that?’. That never happened with other watch brands.”
That admiration will be one of the many benefits of working at Mina Group. Valletta is also excited about the increased philanthropic reach he’ll have, thanks to Michael Mina’s star power and reputation in the restaurant world.
But even more important, Valletta is enthusiastic about the quality of life he has gained as his career has progressed. “The higher up I’ve gone, the more balance I’ve had,” he said. As a husband and father of two young children, he’s able to make time for both work and family.
“You can never remake these moments,” he said. Thus, he’s focused on “making sure that the things you miss are not the ones you’ll regret later”. It’s sound advice that he applies in all aspects of his life.
COO of Mina Group