Alumni Profiles is an ongoing series highlighting successful graduates who, with a SUNY education, achieved interesting and influential careers.
Angelo Mazzone is an entrepreneur, educator, visionary, and family man. He has taken advantage of his education at Hudson Valley Community College and Schenectady County Community College to build a hospitality empire in Upstate New York, and now gives back to the College in a handful of ways, including offering experiential education opportunities to students.
Following graduation from SCCC (1974) and, subsequently, University of New Haven in Connecticut, Mazzone returned to New York to jumpstart his career. He saw rapid promotions in multiple positions before testing his entrepreneurial skills through acquiring management and catering of a local restaurant.
Mazzone now leads Mazzone Hospitality in the Capital Region of New York, where his company operates a dozen high-end restaurants, such as Angelo’s Prime Bar and Grill and Angelo’s 677 Prime. Mazzone routinely looks to the Schenectady County Community College students and community to effectively sustain the Mazzone brand.
Read Angelo Mazzone’s professional biography here.
1. Why and how did you get into the hospitality business?
I was in a small family Italian restaurant growing up, I was always in love with food, I was always in the kitchen with both my grandmother and mother and wanted to learn all about it. When I was in high school I excelled as an athlete and wanted to be a physical education major and coach. I started my college career at Hudson Valley Community College. I was still interested in food and hospitality and after a year transferred to Schenectady County Community College, in the hotel and restaurant program. I was in the second graduating class.
Hospitality was a given growing up in an Italian family from Long Island; we always greeted with food and welcomed people to our home. I do the same thing today welcoming people in all our facilities, be it a restaurant, a business café, a wedding, or just in someone’s home. My whole life is hospitality and food and I practice it everyday with everything I do. I remember growing up my mother would say most people eat to live, she would say that I lived to enjoy food and people.
2. Your company has quite the reign over fine dining in the greater Capital Region. What professional attribute of yours would you say contributed to this success?
Never counting on what we did yesterday, never taking a break and saying look at what we did. Always going in everyday asking what can we do today better that what we did yesterday. I push not only myself but my associates to ask how we can do it better.
I do want to talk about how I did learn a lot of what I do with food from the SCCC; it gave me the foundation to build my career. I learned more about the hospitality and restaurant business at the college. I continued my education to receive my bachelor degree in business, but that only rounded out my education. I received all my technical education at Schenectady . I was always proud to be part of the college. When I came back to the area I started teaching at the college and someday would like to back and do it again.
We have hired literally hundreds of students and graduates in all divisions of our company, from the hotel, culinary, business, and marketing departments of the college. I would say right now we have at least 10 people on the faculty, either adjunct, or full time. My own daughter is an adjunct professor, she has a Masters in Hospitality Training. My son, who is our CFO and has a master in business degree from the University at Albany, took restaurant classes at SCCC while he was working for us early on in his career.
3. What clubs or activities did you participate in while attending Schenectady County Community College?
While I was at the college, I was involved with many activities. I was President of the Young Food Services Executive Association. I also started a wrestling club that did not do that well. It was a young college so I talked the AD to let me try, we had about 10 kids so I started a coaching career. I guess I am still a coach because I coach everyday with my staff. Showing them how to do it and practicing fundamentals so we do it right on game day. The busiest Saturdays, the weddings we only have one chance to do it right. We practice with training everyday so we can win. We win by making people happy. I always say we are only as good as our last meal or event. My other big thing is we are only as good as our weakest person; they all touch customers so we need to make them ready for game day.
4. Where did you see yourself at the beginning of your career and where do you see yourself in the future?
I always remember we needed to do a paper in one of the classes of the position you wanted to achieve and how to get there. I wanted to be a director of Food and Beverage for a large hotel. Well, I guess I archived that goal in another way. I was the director of food service at Union College when I was 26, I also taught some classes SCCC.
When I bought my first small restaurant in Schenectady when I was 28, I stopped teaching, I was too busy but I was a foundation board member and then a board of trustee member for few years. Then I was too busy with the growth of our company but always stayed involved. Someday in the future I would like to get my MBA and teach at the college full time. I think I could bring a lot of practical knowledge to the students.
6. What advice do you have to share with SUNY students?
Work hard and continue to pursue your goals and do what you love. It is really hard working hard at something you do not love. People know if you love what you do; it SHOWS.
Maxwell is the Coordinator of Digital Engagement for The State University of New York.