Over the last 20 years of Dena Grunt’s professional career in human resources and business development, she has worked in a variety of industries and has come full circle back to her true passion - hospitality.
As President of Highway 1 Hospitality, Grunt is not only operating partner at San Francisco’s newest Italian restaurant and wine bar, Contrada, but she also oversees operations at Nick’s Cove and Cottages on the banks of Tomales Bay.
With Contrada, which is located in the bustling Cow Hollow neighborhood of San Francisco, Grunt was involved in every aspect of its opening, from helping to dream up the vision and design of the restaurant, to the inspiration for the name, which came from her trip to Tuscany where she experienced the 17 contradas that annually race in the Palio.
“When visiting Siena, we learned about the contradas, which were formed in Tuscany in the 13th Century to create a sense of connectedness and community, and the idea that ‘we are stronger together’ kept resonating with us. We were guests of the Aquila - the Eagle - and quickly felt connected to the rich history, the songs, the district, the community, and it was invigorating. We walked the streets of Siena with such excitement in our hearts. At dinner, while enjoying a delicious Italian meal, our new restaurant was discussed and we knew we had the name – we had to be the 18th contrada.”
Over the next few months after Grunt returned from Italy, she worked tirelessly with her business partner Mick Suverkrubbe to make Contrada a reality. They hired a design team and local illustrator, and did some research on possible animals to use as Contrada’s insignia. Eventually they chose the Swan to signify their 18th Contrada in San Francisco as one that is elegant, graceful, strong and wise.
Today Grunt is very proud to introduce such a fun, delicious and convivial gathering place to locals and visitors alike. When she’s not at Nick’s Cove or Contrada, Grunt enjoys spending quality time with her family, Zumba, boating and entertaining friends and family at their home. She currently resides in Petaluma with her husband and their son.