Granada Hotel & Bistro
San Luis Obispo, California
Walker turned a tiny wine bar into a 17-room hotel and bistro that’s now a community gem attracting hip, stylish and fun local and visitors while serving inspired and seasonal food and drinks sourced and grown on California’s Central Coast. In 2017, she is reinventing it once again creating another quick-service restaurant, a new bar, updating the existing restaurant and adding valet parking. She also founded The Station, a San Luis Obispo wine bar with creative space for the community’s benefit and is currently renovating the SkyView Hotel in Los Alamos, California.
THE WALKER STORY —
I had a day job with my other company, Borracha, and was ready for another challenge and starting working every night at Granada. A friend and I opened a bistro and I started realizing how amazing the hospitality industry is because of the way it fuels you.
It’s an honor to serve people and I think there’s something beautiful in that. I believe it’s a good use of a life and now I’m addicted to it! My favorite experiences are when I’m drinking and eating with friends and family and I love watching others as they celebrate life achievements and make memories. I’ve seen my own employees meet, date, get married and started a family here at Granada and there is nothing better than that.
I feel strongly that this is my life’s work.
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MATT WARD: When you get up in the morning what’s the driving force?
KIMBERLY WALKER: I’m up by 5am. Mornings are my most productive part of the day. I loving waking up while it’s still dark and getting a jump start on the day. Breakfast, workout, and answering emails by sunrise is always a driving force.
MW: So much is written and spoken about customer service — define the term as you see it?
KW: Genuine hospitality / sincerity of service is always what we strive for. When traveling, I’d forgo the pomp and circumstance for a property’s genuine desire to make sure I’m having a good stay and that’s what we instill in our staff. When you hire the right people, they not only know the steps of service, they have a sincerity in their delivery that’s vital to our business.
MW: What techniques do you use to secure input from customers?
KW: We listen and talk to our guests while they stay with us, which is becoming a rarity with technology. We also send a follow up email after their stay.
MW: Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
KW: That’s hard because I am inundated with advice daily and its usually pretty great stuff. My favorite quote is ‘Be brave, this world is not for cowards’. Ferran Addria, owner of El Bulli.
MW: Your biggest pet peeve is?
MW: What was learned for those in the lodging industry following The Great Recession in ’09?
KW: Stay focused.
MW: When you go on vacation what are the elements that matter most to you?
KW: Authenticity of place. I seek out places that will serve as an education as well as a good time. I’d rather be inspired then comfortable when I’m traveling solo. If I’m with my boyfriend, then food and wine tend to be important as well.
MW: Your life has involved a wide range of elements — how have they shaped you in who you are today?
KW: I have a large appetite for learning and experiencing new things. I think that generally leads to being engaged and interested — and at times, scattered!
MW: If you could pick out a specific bucket list location you’ve never been — where would it be and why?
KW: I have a list of places so picking one is tough but because probably Snowman trek Bhutan — 200 miles of hiking through Bhutan.
MW: Identify the short and long terms challenges facing those in the lodging industry and what your key recommendations are in dealing with them?
KW: Technology and its place in hospitality seems to be a hot topic. Airbnb and saturation in the boutique hotel segment is another. I think staying true to your property is important. Authenticity and sense of place are timeless and generally make for a unique experience for guests.
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