Hotel Julian, a chic boutique hotel on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue near Millennium Park, has tapped some talent from Kendall College of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management at National Louis University.
Daniel Grajdura, who earned his Hospitality Management degree from Kendall in 2005, provides a polished presence as the hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing. He can often be found on the hotel’s ground floor, a trendy-looking space which includes a mix of contemporary seating and vintage touches like a portrait of the building’s renowned architect, Benjamin Marshall, painted on brick at one side of the cocktail bar. That space flows seamlessly into the hotel lobby and a restaurant, About Last Knife.
“Kendall really set the foundation for where I am today,” said Grajdura, who has been with Hotel Julian a little over a year. He started with the pre-opening team in March 2018 and the hotel opened for business in October. Grajdura handles sales for corporate to leisure, individuals, large groups and conventions.
He took a meandering route into hotel sales, however. He started at Kendall in culinary with the intent to become a chef and possibly open a restaurant.
“But in order to get my degree at Kendall College, I had to do an internship in the front of the house,” Grajdura said. “So, I became a bartender at a local hotel and lo and behold a couple months later, the Director of Operations came to me and asked, do you want to do hotel sales?
“And being so young and naive, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into but I said why not? And I’m still doing it to this day.”
Grajdura says he loves working at Hotel Julian, which he describes as a modern, trendy lifestyle hotel with 55-inch smart TVs in the rooms and personalized service. At 168 N. Michigan Avenue, the hotel sits right in the middle of Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center, the sightseeing boat dock and Michigan Avenue attractions and shopping.
He also has good memories of his Kendall College professors, who he says were very experienced in the hospitality and culinary fields.
“They lived it, they breathed it and that shows through in all their lectures and all the classes, and that by far is better than any book that you could pick up,” he said.