In this month’s chapter of Crew Spotlight, meet Belle of Louisville Riverboats’ Chief Purser, Julia Hammel-Furlong, who has worked here for 24 years! Starting as a deckhand, Julie worked grew her career on the vessel operations team and was offered the Chief Purser position in 2008. Since then, Julie has not only led the Food & Beverage team, but also held an important role in maintaining and preserving the legacies of our historic vessels!
How long have you worked with Belle of Louisville Riverboats?
24 years. I started as a deckhand, advanced to a First Mate’s position, and then was offered the Chief Purser (Food and Beverage Manager) position.
What are some of the important responsibilities of your job?
I manage the Food, Beverage, Hospitality and Public Event business for public cruises, catered functions, special events, concessions, and bar operations. I am responsible for the implementation of events and functions for both The Belle of Louisville and the Mary M. Miller and oversee and participate in function setup and preparedness for events through coordination and interface with the captain. I am also responsible for promoting sales and adhering to budget guidelines for the food and beverage business in payroll, spending, and cost of goods margins. I also participate in outside marketing as seasonal business permits.
In your opinion, what is the best aspect of your job?
Meeting and talking with new guests on the cruises!
What does a typical workday look for you?
On any given day, my workday consists of any of the following….
- Attend staff meetings and management planning meetings
- Hire, train and schedule Pursers, Event Coordinators, concession, bar, photographer, and retail Staff.
- Provide continued employee training and monitors the performance of staff to assure effective job performance
- Schedule employees for work assignments as business needs dictate
- Act as front-line representative to charter and public groups
- Assure preparedness of seating charts and coordinate and confirm setup with deck crew
- Perform Food & Beverage crew line up prior to all functions to communicate essentials of service and to monitor crew’s appropriate appearance
- Order concessions, bar products, photo products and supplies in accordance with established guidelines
- Secure needed equipment, supplies, and repairs to maintain work areas, in addition to contacting vendors and securing price comparisons
- Work with caterers by calling in customer counts and controls food needs and special orders
- Develop promotions to increase sales activity
- Design menu and price boards and prepare seating charts
- Ensure all food and beverage areas, equipment, and crew practices are maintained in strict compliance to health standards and Board of Health requirements
What is the most unique aspect of your job?
I work on the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat!