Alicia Guzman was so impressed by one of the students in her Central Wyoming College restaurant management class, she recommended him for a job.
Alicia, the food and beverage manager at the Wort Hotel in Jackson is an instructor for CWC’s hospitality program. Last fall, while teaching dining room management, she came to appreciate the well-rounded skills of Brian Notzka.
The hotel’s famous Silver Dollar Bar and Grill lost its assistant restaurant manager and when Notzka applied, Alicia was quick to recommend him for the position.
“He’s a super star,” Wort Hotel General Manager Jim Waldrup said of Notzka. Waldrup is a member of CWC’s hospitality program’s advisory committee, and he recommended Guzman use the Wort as a student laboratory to teach the course.
Notzka came to Jackson like many transients who were mostly interested in the steep and deep slopes of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. He worked in the restaurant business to support his avocation and met his future wife while working at the Cowboy Steakhouse.
The couple left the mountain tourist community so she could complete a master’s degree. They returned to Jackson when she got a teaching job at Jackson Hole High School.
Notzka worked as a mover but was sidelined by a severe back injury. While recovering from surgery, he saw that CWC in Jackson was offering a hotel and restaurant management program and decided to enroll.
Because of his back surgery, Notzka joined Guzman’s class late. “He caught right up,” she said. “He’s had experience in the front of the house and back of the house which makes him well rounded.”
When the assistant manager position opened, Guzman believed her student was a natural to fill the job. “I knew exactly what kind of student he was and the intelligence he showed,” she said.
While Notzka says he’s slowly earning his CWC degree, he acknowledges the program has “led to good things.”
Alicia, who has been food and beverage manager at The Wort for five years, said it is often challenging for the business to find managers. She looked at the part-time teaching position as an opportunity to recruit “serious” employees who want to have stable careers in the Jackson hospitality industry.
When she began her career at the Wort, she said it was “hard to get people, especially managers.” Most were looking for wait staff positions to support their recreational activities in Jackson.
She credits the CWC hospitality program with changing that. “It’s interesting to see these young people that are in the business in town,” she said. “Now they are seeking to stay and grow in the industry as a career.”