By Marie Wood
Special to The Free Press
— Mattie Eggimann is the first woman general manager at Mankato City Center Hotel, where she oversees 151 rooms, events and weddings 30 to 35 weekends a year, conventions that book up the spring and fall, and 60 to 80 employees at any given time.
And Eggimann is under 30 years old. In July, at age 27, Eggimann was promoted from food and beverage director to general manager. Eggimann’s success is well-earned from years of experience in food service, a fair management style and a passion for her work.
“I am an extremely hard worker. I have a really strong work ethic. I am eager to learn,” said Eggimann. “As an employee, I take responsibility for mistakes that I have made. I don’t make excuses and I don’t blame things on other people.”
Eggimann worked her way through high school and college in food service: fast food, casual dining and catering. She worked for Panera Bread, hilltop Hy-Vee Kitchen and others.
In 2008, Eggimann was hired as the assistant food and beverage manager at the Best Western Plus in North Mankato. Best Western Plus, Mankato City Center Hotel and Holiday Inn Express on Mankato’s hilltop make up HotelsMankato.com owned by Doug Anderson.
In 2010, Eggimann was promoted to food and beverage director at the Mankato City Center Hotel. At both properties, Eggimann was responsible for events and a full service restaurant and bar, which she described as fun and sometimes overwhelming.
“My parents were hard workers with a strong work ethic. I grew up in a household where caring about what you do and putting your heart in what you do was valued,” said Eggimann.
Moving into the general manager position has been an exciting challenge as she learns to successfully manage a hotel, analyze revenue, and master the hospitality industry. Eggimann is grateful that Anderson hired from within and gave her this opportunity.
“She’s done a good job, she understands organizational policy well and has a good background in food and beverage from the back of the house to the front of the house, which is a sought-after set of attributes,” said Anderson.
“That was a promotion waiting to happen.”
As food and beverage director, Eggimann worked many late evenings and weekends, but she has adjusted to standard weekday hours as general manager. Sometimes she stays late or works weekends for large events and weddings.
“The greatest reward for me is to see all the pieces of the puzzle come together — food and beverage, housekeeping, front desk, and maintenance working together to get through a busy weekend or event,” said Eggimann. “You know everybody worked really hard to make the event go even better than expected.”
Eggimann can pitch in anywhere in the hotel. You might find her hosting or waiting tables at the hotel restaurant — 101 Main — during the weekday lunch rush. Eggimann is quick to remind locals that the 101 Main is still open and offering a Sunday brunch buffet.
“We have a really excellent chef, good food, a salad bar and lunch buffet Monday through Friday,” added Eggimann.
Day-to-day Eggimann oversees operations, helps out in housekeeping and front desk during peak times, resolves employee issues and completes administrative tasks.
“Everyday is really different. I come in most days with a mental list of what I’ll do. I have to always be on my toes ready to respond to what happens. Days never go as planned,” said Eggimann.
Eggimann’s youth does not hinder her as a manager. She strives to treat employees fairly and hold them accountable. Working in food service, Eggimann has seen many management styles and learned early that a manager should never show favoritism.
“I always try to treat everyone fairly and respectably,” said Eggimann. “People respond to me as a person of authority, but they are not intimidated by me.”
Eggimann and all local hotel managers have experienced an uptick in tourism. As part of her role as general manager, Eggimann is involved in community efforts to promote Mankato.
“The City and the CVB are trying really hard to get people to come to visit Mankato,” said Eggimann.
Mankato City Center Hotel was booked for the Mankato Marathon and logged an increase in overnight business for Vikings Training Camp. She meets rock and country stars who spend the night or get a room for their bus driver. Eggimann said she believes the Vetter Stone Amphitheater has the potential to bring more visitors to Mankato.
From the late 1970s to 2009, Mankato City Center Hotel was a Holiday Inn. Being an independent hotel offers more marketing freedom. Over the past 10 years, the nature of the hospitality business has changed from people making reservations on corporate 1-800 central reservation lines to online booking through third party web sites, explained Eggimann.
For instance on Booking.com and Expedia.com, Mankato City Center Hotel is one of the first hotels listed in a Mankato search.
In 2009, all rooms were remodeled so everything from floor to ceiling is new. Having completed the Best Western housekeeping training, Eggimann said most hotel rooms are cleaner than people’s homes as they are so thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
“People don’t realize how clean they are. People don’t realize how hard housekeepers work to make sure the room is clean for them,” said Eggimann.
The Mankato City Center Hotel is remodeling the public areas of the hotel, which should be completed by the end of this year.
“It’s going to totally change the look of the hotel so I’m really excited,” said Eggimann.