Born and raised in New Rochelle, New York, Andrew came to the Twin Cities in 1999, while working for the Hilton Hotels, and “in the hopes that I was going to keep going west in my career”. But he met his wife Andrea here, and they set down roots, first in Woodbury and currently in the Macalester Groveland neighborhood. After a couple career moves, Andrew is back with the Hilton brand, now working as the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Embassy Suites in downtown Saint Paul.
They joined Mount Zion three years ago, as their daughter Amelie began the second grade. Andrew quickly became active in Brotherhood, and will be attending his third Brotherhood retreat this coming May.
How did you come to be in the hospitality business?
I went to Johnson & Wales (University) for Hospitality Management, in Providence RI. I knew I wanted to be in hospitality. I love food service. I like the kitchen. I like serving people. That’s the only kind of job that I’ve ever had. My first job, when I was 14 years old, was stocking shelves at an Annie Sez shoe department. Annie Sez is a lady’s clothing store. I was there two weeks and they wanted me to join a union, and at 14 years old I don’t think I need to join a union. But every job that I’ve ever had has been in some service industry, whether it’s been in restaurants, bars, country clubs, hotels.
That’s all I’ve ever done.
How did you come to join Mount Zion?
My wife Andrea loves Judaism. She just loves the tradition that comes with a Jewish heritage. And she wanted Amelie to understand what my family is like, and it’s important also to my Mom. Amelie’s bubbe.
Amelie? We got it from the movie. There’s a movie called Amelie, it’s about a French girl. The tag line is ‘Amelie … she will change your life’.
Andrea’s background is a French background. Her family comes from La Rochelle France, which conveniently enough is a sister city to the city that I was born in, New Rochelle. So we have even more ties between us. She has a son from her first marriage, he’s off at college right now at Columbia College in downtown Chicago, for theatre.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?
I’ve met a lot of famous people being in the hotel business. I got to sit in a room and watch TV with Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, with their dogs on my lap. I’ve lit Neil Diamond’s cigar after a concert at my hotel. I got to shake hands with Al Gore, Rudy Giuliani, Laura Bush, Dick Cheney … I’m not really bragging about that one.
When you work in the hospitality business, when you work at a luxury hotel, you get to see a lot of stars.
The best one I think was Christina Aguilera. She came in on her bus at 6 am in the morning, and she didn’t want anyone to look at her, so we had to all face away from her. And she covered her face because she didn’t have her makeup on. She’s not that pretty without makeup, honestly. When you see celebrities without their makeup on, it’s like a whole new world.
Can you tell us about your family?
My mother started out as a Home Ec teacher and then became just a mom. And then when my father passed away, when I was eight, she went back to work in marketing and research for Pepsi.
What do you remember about your birth father?
Not a lot.
My father owned a Jewish delicatessen and bakery in Yonkers. I used to wake up on Sunday mornings at 6 am, have a glass of prune juice with him, and go down … and stand in the bakery and eat cookies the entire time.
No, he never put me to work. I was the cookie guy.
I remember we used to come home, and we would open up the refrigerator for our afternoon snack after school, and sitting right there on a white plate would be a cow’s tongue, for dinner. That was the kind of stuff we had to eat.
My grandfather did the same thing. He actually owned a delicatessen called the Roxy, which was right next to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
Did your father’s delicatessen stay in the family?
No, his shares were sold after he passed away. He had a partner. And his partner, as I understand the story, ran it into the ground a year later.
What would you do if you if money were not a concern?
I would open up some greasy spoon where I could flip burgers all day. I love being in the kitchen. And I would just buy some small, New York style, belly up to the counter, ‘sit down, I’ll cook you some lunch’, kind of place. Comfort food.
How nice would it be to sit down at a counter and have a latke with some traditional, homemade apple sauce?
Or a glass of prune juice and some cookies.