Opening a brand-new restaurant during the heart of The World’s Most Magical Celebration is no easy feat and requires coordination and planning to go off without a hitch. With the help of some phenomenal women leaders, Connections Café and Eatery is now open for everyone to enjoy!
Growing up, Jayne Berry, a food and beverage proprietor at EPCOT, often traveled from the United Kingdom to Orlando to visit her father, who was an opening day cast member at the park. Her father always spoke about the resort with so much pride and loved showing her all the amazing experiences guests and cast alike enjoy each day. His passion is what sparked her dream to one day work at Walt Disney World.
Now Jayne oversees the operations of the new Connections Café and Eatery as well as the Coral Reef Restaurant and several snack carts around World Celebration and World Discovery. In her role as one of the lead managers, Jayne supports and assists the restaurant’s cast members for a successful grand opening. “It’s such an exciting time at EPCOT, and it’s incredible to see it transform over the years to a new level,” Jayne said. “It also takes me back to my father who helped open the park, so it’s a personal honor to be part of the transformation.”
But long before the restaurant opened its doors, Chelsea Florig, a food and beverage project manager, worked behind the scenes with concept development teams, Walt Disney Imagineering and EPCOT chefs to bring the new eatery and its menu to life. “There’s such pride in this project and everything else that’s coming to the park,” Chelsea said.
She even shared advice to women just starting in leadership roles: Don’t be afraid to ask for help, find a mentor who will advocate for you and, most importantly, be yourself. “By believing and having confidence in myself, I’m able to bring my authentic self to work and hopefully inspire others to do the same.”
Crystal Saunders, a pastry sous chef helping bring the delectable dishes to life, encourages more women to join the culinary industry. Since joining the culinary team in 2012, Crystal has worked with leaders from many backgrounds, experiences and styles between the many restaurants and festival food booths.
And now, she’s adding Connections Café and Eatery to her responsibilities. In her role, she helped develop many new dessert offerings including the Liege Waffle – a Belgian waffle topped with strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. “We’ve pushed the boundaries of food and beverage at EPCOT over the past few years, and I can’t wait for everyone to see what we accomplished,” Crystal shared.
Jayne, Chelsea and Crystal are all proud to have had a hand in the opening of Connections Café and Eatery and they invite everyone to come sample the delicious menu items and see the history of EPCOT come to life in a new way.