Born and raised in Philadelphia, Penn., Michael Mooney was majoring in electrical engineering when sparks of a different kind flew. “At the time I was serving at a chain Italian restaurant, but I quickly realized food and beverage was a career I wanted to stay in,” he says.
The next week, he saw an advertisement for a busser position at Le Bec Fin, a five-star French restaurant he describes as the French Laundry of Philadelphia. “I marched into the restaurant and said, ‘I have no fine dining experience but I enjoy taking care of people.’ And they responded, ‘You start Friday.’”
After three months, he was promoted to server and over the next few years he worked his way through positions of increasing responsibility, eventually landing the coveted role of sommelier. To this day, he credits Le Bec Fin with opening his eyes to a world of cuisine and keeping him firmly entrenched in the food and beverage business.
In 2000, at the heart of the tech boom, he left Le Bec Fin to join a start-up website about wine. The short-lived position – thanks to the subsequent tech bust – showed him that the fast-paced dynamic found in brick-and-mortar restaurants was a key part of what he loves about the industry.
Shortly thereafter, he returned to traditional restaurants, first as a manager at Susanna Foo, a four-star Asian concept, followed by roles at a Philadelphia restaurant group and as the opening manager for the Old Homestead Steakhouse at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.
Little did Michael know this foray into the hotel restaurant business would represent a new era in his career. After Borgata, he moved to Cambridge, Mass. to take on the role of general manager of the Rialto restaurant at the Charles Hotel, working alongside Chef Jody Adams. After three years, he moved across town to the Mandarin Oriental, where he wore three different hats simultaneously – restaurant manager, bar manager and beverage manager.
In 2011, he was recruited by Four Seasons Hotel Boston to manage the Bristol Lounge. He created an award-winning craft cocktail program for the renowned restaurant before moving to the hotel’s Banquets department as manager.
But restaurants would always hold a certain allure, and in May 2013 he agreed to move within Four Seasons to return to the front-of-the-house as manager of TRIO at Four Seasons Hotel Austin.
“I was thrilled to come to Austin because it’s such an exciting place, eclectic with a growing culinary scene,” says Michael. “Plus, it met the one criterion for my transfer: a warm climate!”
Since moving to Austin, he’s made the most of the pleasant weather by exploring the city’s restaurants and outdoors scene in his spare time.
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