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Guilford Welcomes Alex Ruggiero to the Chapter One Food & Drink Team

Chapter One Food & Drink in Guilford would like to welcome Alex Ruggiero as the newest member of the Management Team.  As a longtime veteran in the restaurant industry, our restaurant family couldn’t be more eager to have Alex immersed in our company culture as a leader & General Manager. 

Alex grew up in Enfield, CT and had his first job working for a locally owned and family operated small business. It was in this first position that Alex learned one of the most valuable lessons in business, summing it up as; “If you can provide your guest or client with your best package or service and give your absolute best, their experience will be worth every penny, adding an unparalleled value to any service or product you offer.”

With an interest in business and a passion for food, Alex quickly sought out an opportunity in the restaurant industry as a cook at Ruby Tuesdays and after working all of the stations, decided to further pursue his dream and attend the Connecticut Culinary Institute in Hartford.

After graduating with an Advanced Culinary Degree, he was part of the opening crew at Rizzuto’s, an Italian, wood-fired kitchen, in West Hartford. “The owner was a true restauranteur who brought talented chefs in from all over the region, which gave me the chance to learn different styles and cultures from many unique backgrounds.” Alex started as an intern and his commitment quickly led him to earn the position as Sous Chef. 

From there, Ruggiero took a new position as the Kitchen Manager of Plan B Burger Bar in Glastonbury (now, just known as b Restaurants). The restaurant team developed a strong company culture and concept with an exceptional product that Ruggiero says “revolutionized the way burgers are served.” In his position, he was able to lead and develop a team that created a specific product better than anyone else. Currently, b Restaurants have ten locations. 

He was then offered his first Executive Chef position at the Angry Olive in Rocky Hill, an Italian Bistro serving regional, authentic Italian food. “I managed over 25 people while I was only 22 years old and we made everything in house, from bread to cheese, pasta and charcuterie.”

His next and favorite position (so far) was at 1249 Wine Bar in Waterbury, CT as Executive Chef and General Manager. An integral piece in building the concept, Ruggiero collaborated with the owner to develop a unique farm to table menu with world cuisine, small plates and the largest wine list in Connecticut with over 100 wines by the glass. 

“The wealth of knowledge I gained was priceless. We created a strong, educational culture within the restaurant, with constantly evolving wine & food education, weekly wine classes, unique wine dinners every month… we’d even fly in wine makers from overseas to present the wine dinners. It was amazing.”

After almost half a decade, Ruggiero stepped back to earn his Bachelors Degree in Economics from the University of Connecticut. With a culinary passion and vast experience in the field, he felt it would serve him best to learn how to implement change in restaurants based on analytical observations and mathematical projections. “I knew I could help restaurants flourish and operate in a smoother fashion with a stronger background in economics and business.”

When searching for the perfect position after graduating, Ruggiero visited chapter One food & Drink and quickly fell in love with the town. “This place, this community… it’s a hidden gem on the shoreline. We’re connected to I-95, but far enough away that you can truly see why people spend their time here.”

From the outside, Ruggiero admired the architecture of the building and the wide, front windows overlooking the Guilford Green. On the inside, he felt the front of house and kitchen were well equipped for optimal service and wanted to be an influential member of the team. 

“My goal is to help recreate the menu with Executive Chef, Bret Pangelinan, and fine tune Chapter One’s operations. What comes after that? Hopefully many, many more ‘Chapter One’s…” 

In his personal life, you can find Alex spending time outdoors, on the shore, kayaking or traveling (mostly culinary focused trips)! Ruggiero comes from a big, food-centric, Italian family. “We like to use what we can harvest locally, hunter-gatherer style, and then get together and cook it.” As an aspiring restauranteur, his passion and drive is an unmatched addition to our team and we look forward to Alex growing with Chapter One Food & Drink. 

Favorite Book: The Art of War by Sun Tzu, as it can apply to any situation in life or business… or in the restaurant industry of course!