We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeth Plotke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elizabeth, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
That question is easy! The key to our success has been hiring the most capable, talented and passionate individuals and giving them lots of autonomy to succeed and to thrive. Working behind the scenes for support and guidance whenever needed, is also important. But I remember the best boss I ever had, recognized how motivated and what I self-starter I was, and he gave me lots of room to take on challenges and create success for myself and our organization. He was always there if I needed to ask a question, but he empowered me like no other boss I had. That lesson was one of my biggest influences and how we run things at Campo de Fiori. Our management team is brilliant and they also recognize the talents of each team member. It creates a family and team feeling that is palpable to our guests. It has also allowed for a very high retention rate. Our Controller has been at Campo since the very first day, our Executive Chef has been with us 22 years, our GM is going on 20, our other manger around 15 years, sous chef 18 years, bar manager 21 years and head waiter 25 years. They are all very talented and bring all their individual strengths to the table for something very beautiful and rare. I believe that is one of the true keys to running a successful business.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a restaurant owner and also have a small catering company. The restaurant business is considered one of the hardest businesses and there have definitely been many challenges over the years. With what’s happening in our industry during COVID, it’s become clear how much we have all learned over the years. Our ability to pivot sometimes within an hour and continue to remain rooted in the belief that everything will be ok, even when the narrative says otherwise, has been a great thing to find out about myself and some of the hero’s in our organization throughout this time. The way we got here was by bootstrapping it. I moved to Aspen with $200 and a lot of debt when I was in my early 20s. The restaurant was built with so little money and pure creativity and determination. My sister helped me build every single table. I found rock in a quarry for $350 and built all the kitchen counters. A dear friended painted every wall, ceiling and floor. I went to thrift shops for the decor on our shelves. It was an absolute labor of love and taking a chance and it paid off! The year we opened we were written up as one of the best new restaurants in the country. We were later featured in Wine Spectator.. The biggest lesson is reliance and positivity. Focus on your product. How can you be the best. Don’t worry if someone copies your ideas. Stay true to your vision and always focus on bringing your best every single day. What I believe differentiates us is our level of personalization. Our guests are our friends and ur family. When they walk in, the always know we are happy to see them and that we want them to feel at home and just have a great time. Prior to Covid, people would sometimes spontaneously start dancing around the restaurant. The energy is filled with joy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Of course outdoor activities are huge is Aspen. I would take my friends hiking on the hunter creek loop, up the Ute, to Maroon Bells, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth and up Lost Man. Depending on their fitness we’d bike up Ashcroft or to the Bells or even down valley for lunch at Woody creek tavern or as far as a cute spot in Carbondale. If it were winter, we’d still hike, but also skin up Tiehack or independence pass and ski Ajax. We’d of course have dinner at Campo and probably also go to Matsuhisa, Bosq, Clark’s and Steakhouse, just to name a few. We’d go for drinks at the Jerome hotel in the back bar area and if we felt like pampering, we’d go to the St. Regis for a steam, cold plunge, massage and the oxygen bar. Of course we’d walk around town and enjoy seeing many friends along the way.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many, that it’s almost impossible to limit. I would say here are the key people I want to give a shout out to: Dave Ellsweig, Giuseppe Garafola, Michelle Jacobs, Duan Chaffey, Chris Carmichael, Zoran Sestic & Rodrigo Cortina. They are the OG of Campo heart and soul.
The portrait looking images of me are Michele Cardamone. The photo with the employees with masks is Jim Paussa, the patio shots and shots of the chef and manager are Hal Williams and Aiden Jacobs