Someone 2 Know: Mama
Even though she's not related by blood, an employee known as ‘Mama’ is part of the family at Reno's Eldorado Resort and Casino. And just like most moms, like it or not - she has rules that must be followed.
"If you're sloppy, you're always gonna be sloppy," says Mama, “Don't be sloppy. Otherwise I make you re-do it. I used to go like this” – pulling up the corner of a tablecloth and letting dishes and silverware fall into each other. We’re in the dining room at the Prospector’s Club at the Eldorado Resort in Reno, preparing for the lunch crowd.
When she was a teenager, Charlotte Hofer learned to be a waitress in her native Switzerland. "Then I wanna go to America, then you have to apply otherwise they won't let you in,” she remembers, her native accent still evident after some 50 years in the U.S.
In 1974 she was hired by the Eldorado and ran banquets in Reno for 40 years. Everyone knows her as "mama" and she's not only watched the business grow, but the Carano family as well.
"The kids,” Mama remembers, “the men now, were kids, Gregg was 15 years old." Almost on cue, Gregg walks in to greet Mama with a “Ciao, Mama” and a kiss. Carano says Hofer has always been like his second mom.
Lisa Carano agrees - "Mama is definitely family to me, she's a treasure of the Eldorado."
Mama's genuine hospitality has touched the hearts of guests for decades, Lisa tells us. "She just makes you feel like you're in your own home and she's your mother and she's making sure that you're being treated lovingly."
That's what's considered front of house - or customer service, but behind the scenes...
Mama is strict when training servers - "Take this dirty plate, don't go empty handed" she says with a stern tone.
Mama admits she has exacting standards, and that's how she got her nickname.
She smiles sheepishly remembering, "Well, I was a little bossy."
Lidia O’Bryant worked with mama for 30 years and is now the Food and Beverage Operations Manager, but she remembers being new. "And you know even though she's yelling at you or flipping tablecloths and making you do it over - it's with love.” Lidia says it taught her to love the hospitality industry, as well.
Mama is now officially retired, but comes in twice a week to greet diners at the Prospector's Club. "It's amazing and I love it, that's why I can't let go."