It is not uncommon for young people to get their first job in restaurants. But few work hard enough and long enough to launch a career in the hospitality industry.
Jane Brophy did it.
One day she was serving tables, the next day she was working as a banquet server while continuing her education at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.
She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Food Service Management in 1988. âWhat helped me the most was working full time in the industry while attending university. It allowed me to apply the daily academic learning in a real work environment, âshe explains.
Since then, Brophy has applied his education and skills. She once ran a high-energy nightclub called Cahoots. She later ran an independent restaurant in a former Federal Reserve branch built in 1901.
She and her husband, Matt, began to think about a geographic change while working in Connecticut and working in Rhode Island.
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âThe winters were long and made our commute times difficult. All of our family had already migrated to the southeast, so we decided it was time, âshe explains.
Brophy started looking for a business that was a good fit culturally and offered opportunities for growth.
She found Auro Hotels. That was 16 years ago and she’s been with the company ever since.
âOur employees make us a different kind of hotel business. We have earned a reputation for excellence in everything we do, but our focus is bigger than our day-to-day activities. We seek to improve the communities we serve, âsays Brophy.
The team is his favorite part of the job. “I am surrounded by a team which is the best in its category in its knowledge and expertise and its passion for the hospitality industry.”
Auro is headquartered in Greenville and operates over 40 hotels across the country and in India.
Brophy’s first job with the company was as general manager of Marriott Greenville on Parkway East.
Only three years later, she was promoted to vice president of operations and services for all full-service hotels in Auro. In her role, she also oversees food and drink for Auro Hotels, which includes the gem AC Hotel by Marriott Greenville Downtown on Main Street.
Auro owns, operates and develops hotels that operate under known corporate names such as Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton. In Greenville, these hotels are the AC Hotel Greenville Downtown and the Marriott Greenville, as well as the SpringHill Suites and Residence Inn Greenville and the Hyatt Regency Downtown.
Corporate brands manage reservation systems and loyalty programs and provide marketing support and consistency.
The Auro name resonates with suppliers, bankers and other stakeholders. The company was founded in 1973 as JHM Hotels as a unique 40-room motel in Pomona, California. It became Auro, which means “dawn of a new light”, in 2017.
Brophy focuses on sales and marketing, food and beverage, community relations and the execution of multi-million dollar home improvement projects.
The Hyatt, which has already kicked off the Main Street redevelopment, needed two years of updates and renovations when Auro bought it in 2011, Brophy says.
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Auro reinvented the atrium lobby and added the circular Orb bar, created a âfloor-to-townâ restaurant called Roost that has access to Main Street, added retail space, and renovated all 327 rooms.
The designers also developed Studio 220, a contemporary meeting space on Main and Beattie streets, and converted the underused plaza, NOMA Square. Short for North Main, the outdoor area next to the hotel is packed with live music, yappy hour and Octoberfest.
Beginning a renovation, Auro seeks feedback from clients and associates and studies brand and city code requirements. Then the company creates a budget that meets those expectations, says Brophy.
Nowadays, guests want a residential feel in their rooms, restaurants that reflect the area, natural light and safety, she says.
Unlike the Hyatt, which was built in 1982, the AC Hotel Greenville Downtown was built from the ground up, six blocks south of Main Street on the site of the old Greenville News building.
âIt’s a lot of work and it takes a strong team to bring the project to life,â says Brophy. âWith new construction expectations are very high due to the investment, but our team was more than up to the challenge. In my opinion, high expectations reinforce the commitment and creativity of the team.
Brophy’s role has been to support and guide the catering team.
âIt’s always fun to start projects from scratch and watch them come to life,â she says. âThe best part about a new release is that it’s a blank canvas, where you and your team can create something really unique. “
Food and drink are far from an afterthought at the AC Hotel Greenville Downtown, which will feature no less than seven unique restaurants with their own vibes and menus.
Three are open and thriving, says Brophy, Juniper, an eight-story rooftop bar above Main Street; the Paloma on Main Street; and the press room, with a speakeasy theme.
âGreenville is really becoming a restaurant destination,â says Brophy. âWe start from concepts in an unoccupied or underdeveloped niche. Once the concept is identified, it is necessary to create the brand image and the story.
From there, every decision stays true to the story.
âThe goal is to provide unique experiences for local guests and hotel guests while elevating the food and beverage scene in Greenville,â says Brophy. âThen it’s about promoting your concepts to keep the buzz alive. “
This month’s âbuzzâ at Juniper is a rooftop winter garden with igloos and culminating in an energetic New Years Eve party.
Given this wintry setting, it might be tempting to think that Brophy – originally from Maine and a longtime resident of colder climates – is yearning for a white Christmas.
Not so. She and her husband love spending time outdoors in the upstate’s mild climate.
âWe love it here,â she said. “I hope to be here for the rest of my career if they have me.”