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In the Spotlight #3: With Jesse Vigil

By Hotel Moment

A Hotel Moment Series

Despite the year that this has been, we know we have a lot to be thankful for. 

Over the next two weeks, at Hotel Moment, we are turning the spotlight on people in the hospitality industry who have helped others around them shine In The Spotlight series.

-Jennifer Suski 

Meet Jesse Vigil, San Diego City Director and Big Table

Big Table is a Nonprofit organization that cares for individuals in crisis that work in the restaurant and hospitality industry. 

When Kevin Finch, an established food critic in Spokane, Washington, started 

building relationships with people in the industry, he started to notice how difficult life was for them. As consumers, we often don’t realize the effort, energy and sacrifice that goes into working in hospitality. The nights, weekends, holidays, difficult customers etc. People who work in this industry are so good at their jobs that we don’t recognize the hurt behind the smiles. 

Kevin initially wanted to donate towards a nonprofit that cared for this industry. After an extensive search on the IRS website, he realised that out of the 1.5 million nonprofits registered with the IRS, there were 30,000 that focused on dogs and cats, (which is wonderful) but there were none that focused on restaurants and hotels. He started Big Table soon after. 

Some excerpts from my conversation with Jesse Vigil, the San Diego City Director at Big Table. 

I’m curious about the name. Can you explain that?

Kevin dreamt of a LONG table that seated dishwashers, line cooks, housekeepers, bartenders, etc. etc. – people who worked in the food and hospitality industry. He wanted to gather customers to serve them instead of them serving us. 

We created a 50 foot long table and invited 48 individuals that worked in the industry. We got one of Spokane’s top chefs and created a 6-8 course meal, gathering volunteers who don’t work in the industry to serve them. At that dinner, the goal was to create a community around a shared meal. We got a glimpse into their day-to-day lives and saw first hand all that they do to make this industry wonderful. 

At the dinner, Kevin passed around 3×5 cards and asked the guests to write down the names and numbers of people who were going through a crisis. He wanted to reach out to them to find out how we could specifically care for those nominated.

Twelve years later, we launched in Seattle and San Diego. We have cared for thousands of individuals… and we get to do it all with No Strings Attached.

(Outside of Covid, we typically have three industry dinners a year in each city.)

Tell me more about the different ways Big Table helps. 

Our care generally falls into five critical impact areas that directly stabilize those in crisis who make up much of the restaurant and hospitality industry. These are people who fall between the cracks – not able to make enough to survive but making too much to qualify for the critical support services reserved for those already unemployed or homeless.

This initial care may include – utilities assistance, help with rent or a deposit for housing, connections to a counselor, car repair, diapers or food for a single mom, a bike for work transportation, medical or dental help, or assistance with resume development. We do not provide hotel vouchers or long-term financial assistance.

Once the crisis has passed we continue to walk alongside individuals – offering accountability and encouragement.

I understand that you have continued with a referral process that Kevin started 12 years ago. Can you explain the process for us?

We are all about relationships! When someone is in crisis, they are referred to us by a manager, co-worker, friend, patron, etc. We do not accept self-referrals.

We have an online form that the referrer fills out to give us basic information about the person they are referring. We contact the referrer to hear their story and gather more details. We then reach out to the Care Recipient. Pre Covid, we’d invite them out to a cup of coffee. Relationships tend to build over that coffee. We then navigate specific ways in which we can provide support – emotional or financial. We then get to meeting that need! We follow up every few weeks to check in and make sure that the people are doing well. Some relationships last months or even years! 

Have you seen a large uptick in the level of need this year compared to previous years?

We launched the San Diego office in March 2019. Last year, we helped 67 people. In 2020, we have cared for 689 people so far We project to finish the year with at least 700 people helped.

Has the government stepped up to help at all?

We have not had any assistance through the government… and that is okay. Because of our fundraising model, we get to provide a more extensive care model. We don’t have to follow the government’s guidelines of grant reporting and jump through the hoops of government funding. We can focus on care and not checking off a “Social service box.”

Who contributes to Big Table?

One of the most beautiful aspects of our organization is that we are completely funded through donations. We have Corporate Sponsors, Industry Partners but the majority of our funding comes from individual donors and monthly partnerships.


Connect with Jesse and others through their website www.big-table.comIf you are interested in supporting our efforts financially or becoming a monthly partner, go to

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In the Spotlight #2: Six Figure Profession

By Hotel Moment

A Hotel Moment series

Despite the year that this has been, we know we have a lot to be thankful for. 

Over the next two weeks, at Hotel Moment, we are turning the spotlight on people in the hospitality industry who have helped others around them shine In The Spotlight series.

-Jennifer Suski 

Meet Anthony Valente and Six Figure Profession.

When Anthony was laid off from his Director of Catering and Conference Services role  in March 2020, he didn’t spend time blaming COVID-19 for the turn of events.  Instead he decided to change industries and Six Figure Profession (6FP).

Six Figure Profession is a training and development platform that was created by former executives who had either been laid off or whose businesses had closed due to economic conditions beyond their control.  The founders each brought with them a wide set of transferable skills and experience in sales, marketing, team management, entrepreneurial endeavors and start-ups.They set out to help others pivot and find success in a new industry.

With the global pandemic raging, one of the founders reached out to other hospitality industry colleagues knowing that many were struggling out there and were seeking stability in income and job security.

Some excerpts from my conversation with Anthony:

Why do you think hoteliers are a good fit for this program?

I’m a hotelier myself. I had to think of a way I could give back and help colleagues who were looking for a lifeline just like I was. An industry colleague and co-founder of Six Figure Profession reached out shortly after I was let go.  He offered his help and explained why people in our industry were able to pivot relatively easily given our skills and experience.  

Hospitality people have skills that are important and valuable – a strong work ethic, an ability to talk to people and dedication to their team succeeding. At 6FP, these are the qualities that we look for in partners to build a business that could set them up for life financially.  

Do you have an ideal person in mind for this program?

Someone who is willing to step out of their comfort zone and realize that although this is a different industry, their skills and experience are very useful and applicable. Having a bit of entrepreneurial curiosity, a passion for helping others, being part of a team, being open coaching and working hard is fundamental to success here. 

It is a commission based opportunity and that can be nerve-wracking. Our process is simple in that it’s duplicatable and we are here to coach people every step of the way.  We offer comprehensive training, weekly team calls and one on one mentorship.

What is the commitment?

That is the best part. People are accountable to themselves and can invest the time their schedule allows. We’re with them to help and then to celebrate as they achieve their goals! 

We have members on our team that work 5-10 hours a week and earn a supplemental income each month. I work 20-30 hours a week to build quicker and replace significant income over time

Can people work with you on this program while waiting to get back into hospitality?

Absolutely!  What is exciting here is that it can ultimately provide consistent passive residual income as well. People earn an income every month for work they’ve done in the past.

Having made this transition, what’s one thing you want others to know?

I’d encourage people to be open to new and different opportunities. I learned the importance of being prepared for the unexpected and the power of having multiple streams of income.  I hope we never have to go through another year like 2020, but I want to help people be prepared just in case.  


Connect with Anthony Valente on LinkedIn if you’d like more information. 


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In the Spotlight #1: H&F Redefined

By Hotel Moment

A Hotel Moment series.

Despite the year that this has been, we know we have a lot to be thankful for.

Over the next two weeks, at Hotel Moment, we are turning the spotlight on people in the hospitality industry who have helped others around them shine In The Spotlight series.

Jennifer Suski

Meet Gladi & Laura.
When these two seasoned hospitality event professionals and best friends were furloughed within a week of each other, they teamed up to create H&F Redefined.

H&F Redefined is a promotional network supporting colleagues and peers from the hospitality industry who found themselves in a similar scenario as Gladi and Laura.

The platform encourages people who have been furloughed or have been laid-off and have chosen to redefine their lives by creating a new brand, business, blog of their own. People who choose to grow their side hustles, or build a business around an old skill are “innovators” on H&F Redefined.

Gladi and Laura work as the innovators’ PR team or their hype team. They interview them, craft their stories, feature them on the platform – creating a news story link that innovators can then reference for future PR and media.

Some excerpts from my conversation with them –

What sparked the idea for this company?
When we were furloughed, we saw a few peers develop brands, or YouTube channels, or blogs, and became their own biggest cheerleaders. We realised that we needed to build our OWN brand, focused on this inspiring community of Innovators, and self-starters.

We believe that anyone who can dig deep, rise above the chaos of this pandemic and take matters into their own hands to redefine their lives on their own terms, should be applauded. So we started writing, and it just started flowing.

Why should people work on building their own brand?
This year we learned that sometimes the unthinkable can truly happen. It’s important to build something that we can organically flex as needed – depending on outcome of the furlough. If we get the foundation and mechanics in place now, we can scale it down if we get recalled. Or run with it if we get laid off.

What about people who may still want to stick with hospitality?
Hospitality is not going away – the vehicles to execute our craft has dissipated for now. We’re asking people to build their own vehicle. Hospitality requires diverse skills to be successful. We need to analyze our job, determine the favorite aspects, and roll it into our own product or service.

What are some new directions people in hospitality have been taking?
We represent an interior design business, a cooking show on YouTube, a Realtor, a DIY lifestyle brand, a copywriter & blogger, a charcuterie board artist, an educational mixology channel on YouTube, a kids farm, a macrame Etsy shop, a tablescape designer, a cosmetologist, and photographers – the list goes on.

I hope the diversity of our innovators inspires others to take the chance themselves.

Why do you think more people don’t take their passions seriously?
I think it’s a fear of getting started and simply a lack of confidence. Probably there’s also a lot of misconception about how people need to know how to do x, y, z before jumping off.

I hope we all walk away from this pandemic knowing that professionally we all have the ability to turn our careers into whatever we want them to be.

What’s the cost associated with all of this?
As of now, H&F Redefined services are complimentary. We are building the foundation of a brand that is focused on passion, and hence GOOD work is more important than monetizing it. Also, our innovators are in financial hardship just like us. Asking for a fee then to share their story goes against the grain of what we stand for.

How can someone connect with you to get started?
People who want to be featured on can complete a submission form on the bottom of the home page. We are also on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Things we did in 2020: IN THE MOMENT live podcasts

By Hotel Moment, Team

Things we did in 2020: IN THE MOMENT live podcasts

Every Thursday since June this year, we’ve been hosting conversations. 

We speak to people in the hospitality industry. We hear stories, tips, tricks, laughter, concern. 

Today, these conversations have grown into two podcasts – Hotel Moment for the hotel industry hosted by Jennifer Suski and Casino Moment for the casino industry hosted by Scott Long

There are 1.5 million podcasts out there already. Why did we feel the need to take that number up by two? 

We started it as a response to the tumultuous times that the hospitality industry experienced in 2020. 

Several people had lost their jobs, several others were scrambling to find the right prospecting tools, tips. Several others just wanted to chat and be part of a community. 

What started as an email list, Hotelier Friends forum, morphed into a Zoom call and then into its current live podcast shows. 

What this is – a live podcast show so listeners get the chance to ask our guests questions and learn from others in the industry just like themselves.

What this isn’t – a lead generation exercise. No sales pitches take place during any episodes.

We’re already in season 2. What else are we going to get to this year?!

[More details of the upcoming guests, past episodes, email lists are here