Cynthia grew up in southern Illinois learning service and hospitality under the most influential of teachers – her father. He was not only her school principal by day but also a waiter by night, and as a ‘bus person’ under his tutelage she adopted his uncompromising attention to detail and a steadfast work ethic.
After graduating from Boston College, Summa Cum Laude, Cynthia took her first management position at Busby’s in New York City. It was a great beginning, but she eventually moved to Switzerland to study the French language and work in a restaurant in Geneva. From there Cynthia gained experience in the kitchen as an assistant chef in the village of Hermance. Missing the “front of the house”, she was hired by Azimor Inc, as Director of Operations. In this capacity, she helped the company grow rapidly, opening seven restaurants for the group from 1996 – 2002, while overseeing two existing properties.
Returning to New York, Cynthia worked for the acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten as general manager of JoJo, his first restaurant. From there she moved to Grapevine, TX, and opened Old Hickory, the steak house of the Gaylord Texan Resort, the largest resort and spa in Texas. Cynthia was the company’s first female general manager.
However, she was not finished with New York. The city’s food and wine scene beckoned her, this time on the wholesale side as a sales representative for a French wine company and later in retail as the general manager of a wine shop on the Upper East Side. With a new notch in her belt and much wine knowledge, she returned to the restaurant world to help a dear friend at Allegretti, a Southern French restaurant in the heart of Manhattan. During these years in New York she was hired by Martha Stewart to cater her personal and private events. Ms. Stewart considered Cynthia her personal sommelier.
Finally, with an Olive Branch in hand, Cynthia is proud to be back in Texas to focus on family and open Oliva, where she will combine all her experiences with food, wine, service, and hospitality to provide you with a memorable dining experience.