get to know natalie stanbra of oliver bonacini catering, 1
  • Name: Natalie Stanbra
  • Company: Oliver & Bonacini Catering
  • Title: National Director, Event Sales
  • Years with the Company: Number

So how’d you get into the events world? 

I was a host at the O&B Café Grill during University and really fell in love with the restaurant business. It was so fun and energetic and matched my personality well. Despite being in school for teaching, I left that behind and started working in restaurants full time after graduating.

When did you get your first big break?

I would say when we opened the Arcadian in 2012. I had been working as an event specialist at our 2 other venues, but our portfolio was still very small. When we opened the Arcadian, I had the opportunity to meet wedding planners, foundations, etc., and it opened me up to the amazing events industry and all the large-scale events I had yet to experience. I learned so much during the renovation and re-opening the space that I remember fondly!

How did COVID affect the business? What have you had to change since?

The COVID years were very tough. Like many others, our business was shuddered and we had to find ways to manage our clients and employees through many opens and closes. We had the difficult task of rebuilding our team – and quickly! – as the demand surged once we were able to get back to events. I am happy to say that I do feel our events business has stabilized post COVID and that it does *knocks on wood* feel like it’s finally behind us.

Natalie Stanbra

What do you look for when bringing aboard a new team member?

I love hiring team members. I always look for someone that has a passion for the restaurant industry and food and beverage since it’s at the core of O&B. I also look for team members whose values align with those of our company values as I think this is a really important indicator for success. Finally, I am always interested in meeting candidates that show initiative, and are willing to bring their ideas forward to better the way we do our business. I always like hearing how someone has implemented change in a past role, and what the results of that change were.

What’s the best part about your job?

I love being a part of new restaurant openings across Canada! I really enjoy travelling to discover the different regional tastes that each province prefers. I also like keeping on trend with all that changes each year. I think that is what makes it fun and challenging.

What’s one big tip you would give to up-and-comers in the industry?

Say yes to everything! Attend events, volunteer, meet others within the business, take the entry level position etc. You never know what direction a “yes” will lead you! 🙂

And now for the Bonus Round…

get to know natalie stanbra of oliver bonacini catering, 2

What was your first job in the industry?  

My first job was a host at one of our restaurants. I learned a lot about how a restaurant functions in this role, and started to understand the importance of speed & efficiency, all while appearing very calm and in control!

You wouldn’t be you without?

Coffee! Have we met? I have a lot of energy. Coffee helps 🙂 and running. Running keeps me centered. I’m not the same without it every week.

What’s at the top of your bucket list?

Desert Camping which I’m planning on doing in the Sahara next spring!  

If you could retire anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Hawaii. I absolutely love the Ocean, and would love to be warm, everyday.

What’s the first thing you do when you get home?

Ask my son about his day. As you can imagine, he has a taste for great food and is excited to dine at our new restaurants soon. I’m equally excited to share this with him! 🙂

What is one item you can’t leave home without (other than the obvious: phone, keys, wallet)?

Airpods! I’m always working on the go so they are essential to multi tasking.

What was one of the least glamorous jobs you had when you were younger?

I delivered newspapers as my first job. It was great in the summer, my brother and I would rollerblade (which was harder on the stairs) but in the winter, my mom would drive us house to house. What a difficult job for us all!