There are not many restaurants that can define a city but Bottega Louie comes close to doing that. Bright and bustling with energy, it’s followed an iconoclastic game plan for success, much like its hometown. Located in the 100-year Beaux Arts Brockman Building at 700 Grand, Bottega Louie was three years in the making. As it was to open in 2009, the developers of the 11 floors of condos above it declared bankruptcy. Despite that dramatic start, or perhaps because of it, Bottega Louie has endured the revitalization of the downtown area with a touch as light as a macaron. And now, Monica Challingsworth, Director of Sales, is helping the restaurant expand its reach beyond the beautiful flagship.
It will be a hard act to follow — the space is palatial in size and scope; its 20-foot-high windows are filled with the bright confections which have tallied up a world-record Instagram count. Inside the 10,000-square-foot, white-and-marble space, stacks of pastel boxes tied with silk ribbon vie for attention with the macaron and pastry case. The combination of color and light makes one’s troubles disappear in the day, and at night, the light from the floor-to-ceiling windows draws people — about 15,000 guests in a month — in.
After the success of Bottega Louie and the city around it, the owners are set full speed ahead for growth with possible new locations as well as growing Bottega Louie’s ancillary markets — corporate lunches, wedding cakes that complement the sweet tables the restaurant caters, a full line of retail items and gift boxes, partnerships with entities such as Uber Eats which delivers the pretty box lunches all over Los Angeles (see photo below), and other marketing initiatives all wrapped up in that pretty Bottega Louie pink.
At the center of this activity is Monica Challingsworth. With a degree in hospitality and a background in restaurants, Challingsworth has been with Bottega Louie for the past year and a half, a pivotal one in the the restaurant’s outside growth. Much like her place of business, she is open, friendly, fun, bright and always in motion. As far as sales go, the lure of pastry cream is a powerful one with the wedding market, and her days are filled with possibility and action.
7 a.m. I wake up about this time every day and I hate to admit it, but the first thing I do is check emails while still in bed. Then I’m ready for a work out! Lately my boyfriend, Derek, and I have been doing the Beachbody -21-Day Fix. For a half hour, we work out to old school rap. Then coffee and breakfast which Derek makes when he is home. After a shower, I put on a dress and some colorful heels and hit the freeway into downtown.
9:30 a.m. The commute is my time to myself to listen to TED talks — I’m obsessed with them! And about three days a week I call my mom in Salt Lake City. The rest of the family is in Pennsylvania and my brother is in Huntington Beach. I see him about twice a month.
10 a.m. Thanks to FasTrak I get into the city in about 30 – 45 minutes. I first pop into the restaurant which is already in full swing for breakfast. We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and even with 255 seats, are full all the time. I get coffee and pick up some cookies for the doorman at our offices across the street.
10:30 a.m. In the offices, I check in with Megan Azada who works with me as the sales administrator. I couldn’t do without her. Then I check emails again. It’s important to me to get back to people within several hours, even if it’s to tell them I will get back to them later with their answer. I get about 300 emails a day — anything from handling large restaurant parties, scheduling meetings or lunches with people I’ve met, and any catering logistics.
11 a.m. We do a number of cake consultations a day that begin at 11. Megan and James Rosselle (our cake designer) meet with brides, and I handle those presentations to media, venues, and our partners such as caterers who offer our wedding cakes and sweets tables to their clients.
Noon Three times a week I attend networking lunches with either the Central City Association of Los Angeles, the LA Chamber of Commerce or LA Tourism. I must hand out about 40 business cards a day to anyone and everyone! My philosophy is two fold … a sale can come from anywhere, but it’s also great to grow a group of friends and business contacts. I invite many to come into the restaurant and they often do.
2 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have our executive meeting where we go over sales numbers, events that are happening, initiatives and partnerships we are exploring. On the other days I’ll answer emails, and meet with clients. I’m not that big into social media. I check Facebook now and then, although more now that we are moving into weddings. I go to the pages of California Wedding Day, Inside Weddings and others to stay in touch and see what’s going on.
4 – 6 p.m. During the week, there are a lot of networking events, and I always try to go to those for city and corporate business.
7 – 9 p.m. Equally, there are a lot of wedding events! I will usually go to one of these about three nights a week. Derek travels for work Tuesday through Thursday so that works out. On the nights when we’re both home, I’ll cook. I have a slow cooker I love to use, and we both love to grill. We save up episodes of New Girl and The Mindy Project … our shows. If I’ve been to an event, I come home, hang out with our cat, Charley, a rescue, have a glass of wine and a bubble bath in our claw foot tub.
10:30 p.m. I start winding down and am in bed about 10:45. I read a little, check e-mails, and respond saying that I’ll get back to them in the morning, and am asleep by 11.
After a day filled with macarons, new friends and contacts, cake and pink boxes, it’s a safe bet that Monica Challingsworth’s dreams are sweet.