Stephanie admits she’s been a planner her entire life. “The most poignant advice I ever got was from my dad,” recalls Stephanie, who once told her, “Being a planner is great, so long as you know that life rarely goes according to plan.”
Born and raised in Tacoma, her plan was to be a gymnast (she competed through junior high), or a molecular biologist (she loved to test DNA on anything she could get her hands on), or play in the symphony (she studied violin for 10 years). But plans changed when she started working as a restaurant hostess at the age of 16 – she was hooked on hospitality.
Starting as a hostess at the Ram Corporation in Tacoma, Stephanie worked her way up the ranks to corporate trainer in ten years. She made the jump to El Gaucho in Tacoma, and in the eight years with the company, she has worked at three of the five El Gaucho locations as a bartender, server, bookkeeper, trainer, captain, events director, and now as General Manager of El Gaucho Tacoma – one of the few women to take the reins of a prominent American steakhouse.
Besides an accomplished career at El Gaucho, it’s also where Stephanie met her husband, Dasha Mulein, the Captain of Operations at El Gaucho Seattle. That was four years ago, and they’re now happily married with a 20-month-old son, Madox.
“Madox is a pure-bred Gaucho baby,” Stephanie laughs, as she recalls going into labor at work. “I was working late and went upstairs to the Inn at El Gaucho to wait for Dasha to finish his shift. I laid down on the sofa in the lobby and my water broke.” Madox was welcomed into their growing family: Dasha’s son Taven, 10, a cat named Mau Mau, a bearded dragon named Darwin, and a fish named Flash.
When asked what Stephanie enjoys in her free time, she quickly quips, “Are you kidding? I have a toddler.”
In addition to being known for her quick-wit and sarcasm, Stephanie is also organized, hard-working, and great at multi-tasking. With these traits and small stature, her fellow captain nicknamed her “Iron Cupcake.”
Her favorite part of working at El Gaucho? “I can 100% stand behind and truly believe in the level of service and quality of product we provide, which allows me a level of integrity when working with guests,” she says. “It’s also super rewarding to create an experience and see guests enjoying themselves,” she says.
When asked about her recent promotion to General Manager, Stephanie says, “I am really excited to be here because I’m from Tacoma and it’s so full circle because I started at El Gaucho Tacoma. Also, the crew down here is fantastic. I’m ready to dig my heels in and get started!”
Sounds like in Stephanie’s case, sometimes things work out better than planned.
Visit Stephanie and the El Gaucho Tacoma team every night beginning at 4:00pm. Call 253-272-1510 for reservations.