Passion at the Core
Jolene Aiello from Piccolo Cucina
Words by Janie Barton
You’d be hard pressed to find someone as passionate about food, wine and people enjoying meals together as Jolene Aiello, Restaurant Manager at the local’s favourite Italian restaurant Piccolo Cucina.
Whether it’s her Italian heritage, love of her childhood family gatherings around the dining room table or her pleasure in seeing people enjoying meals and good times together, Jolene is devoted to ensuring people have memorable moments when they sit down together to eat.
“I come from a large family and sitting around the dinner table was one of my most favourite memories,” said Jolene, who was a finalist in the Cairns Business Women’s Club (CBWC) Manager in Business Award. “I have three sisters with 11 years between the oldest and the youngest and during dinner was when we all came together.
“We had an old school rotary phone on the wall and when it rang during dinner, we weren’t allowed to answer it. That was the time for us to be social and get involved in each other’s lives. It was a very special time for all of us.”
The Canadian born, who has been in Australia for 10 years and is now an Australian citizen, has spent more than 20 years in the hospitality and is highly experienced in the wine, food and service industry.
“One thing I value that Piccolo Cucina has given me is seeing people growing their passion and respect for each other’s talents” she said. “I truly work with some of the most amazing people I know. While we spend 40 hours a week together, I’m excited to go to work every day.”
She has worked at Piccolo’s for three years, overseeing rostering, stocktaking, managing staff and schedules, recruiting and training staff, organising functions and forecasting and implementing growth strategies, among other responsibilities. She oversees 20 front of house staff and more than 10 back of house, working closely with the Executive Chef.
“Every team member I manage has a different personal motivation and balance for work and life, so I think juggling that is one of the challenges for me,” she said.
“I am constantly challenging myself in my role to keep people at the forefront of the business because if you take care of your people, they take care of the business itself.
Just as the owner Kieran (O’Connor) values balancing my personal work and life, I try to do the same with my staff.”
While Jolene has only recently joined the CBWC, she is looking forward to her future with the club.
“The club has opened my eyes to a network of amazing and powerful women in this community,” she said. “I already feel more empowered and internally wealthier, and I’m looking forward to getting more involved.’