For most of her career – most of her life, really – Audrey Scaglione has worked in the food and beverage hospitality business. She’s worked in hotels, casinos and resorts. She’s catered to business folks, honeymooners, spring breakers and families. She’s worked in kitchens that serve thousands and those that serve 150.
She’s never worked in an airport employee cafeteria. But after taking over as the General Manager of Tampa International Airport’s new Landside Grill this summer, she can confidently say one thing: She’s got this.
“A kitchen is a kitchen,” Audrey said. “Landside Grill is like any other kitchen around America. You’re still serving a lot of people at different points in the day … It’s almost like having a steady bar crowd.”
The difference is, instead of business travelers and vacationers, Landside Grill – operated by Compass Group – feeds crowds of construction workers, airline workers, Authority employees, tenants and others who keep TPA humming every day. Audrey said they get often get requests for the same things every day: beans and rice and chicken wings. Burgers are their top sellers. But the revamped cafeteria also offers a salad bar, fruit and yogurt, daily soup specials and fresh entrée specials that vary every day.
“We try to take all cultures and tastes into consideration,” Audrey said. “We have our healthy days and our not-so-healthy days.”
Born and raised in Detroit, Audrey became a new mother at age 18 and craved a fresh start somewhere else. She packed up and moved to Hawaii, where she’d never been and had no friends or family or job prospects.
“I just decided it was time to get out of the cold,” Audrey said. “It was far enough away without leaving the United States.”
It was also a place with a robust hotel and restaurant hospitality industry, so naturally, that’s where she was drawn for a career start. She started out as a bartender in Waikiki, where she worked for 10 years before going into management at the Halekulani, one of Hawaii’s most well-known five-star resorts.
After an 18-year career and a marriage in Hawaii, Audrey and her husband Anthony moved to Las Vegas for a year, where she worked for Harrah’s Entertainment in the food and beverage division. They then moved to New York, where Audrey commuted to Connecticut and began working for Hyatt.
In 2009, Audrey and her husband moved to Tampa to work at the Hyatt downtown – which is now a Hilton hotel – and worked there until she took a job with Compass a couple of months ago to help manage TPA’s new cafeteria.
Audrey said she has enjoyed serving the employees at TPA, as well as working with such a diverse and friendly staff.
“We have a good crew with a range of experience,” Audrey said. “They really love the guests that come in here.”
Landside Grill is getting ready to launch a number of new features, including nutrition labels on all foods served, a desktop ordering service and a loyalty card program.
Audrey works long hours at the cafeteria, as she has for many years at other kitchens, but enjoys traveling in her free time. She and her husband love planning trips around world-famous and five-star restaurants around the country. She can rattle off every Food Network and Top Chef personality and has been to many of their restaurants – including Richard Blais’s restaurants in Atlanta and Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants in New Orleans. She raves about the Dead Rabbit in New York City, known for having one of the world’s best cocktail menus.
She and Anthony also visit their beloved Hawaii whenever they can, and now they have an extra incentive to go more often. Audrey is a new grandmother – her son Jason lives in Hawaii with his 6-month-old daughter Jubilee.