Just as Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif., is expected to embark on a multi-million-dollar expansion, Pam Toscano is breaking new ground of her own. The 48-year-old member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians has recently become the first female vice president of food and beverage at the property. And she said she has her Native mother to thank for it.
“She is just a pistol, and has pushed me every time I have thought, ‘OK, I’m done,’” said Toscano. “She has really inspired me to be part of the tribe and ensure that the business is giving back to the tribal members.”
This former hairdresser is the first woman and first Native to head up food and beverage at Pechanga in the 20 years the resort and casino has been in business.
Toscano and Pechanga have grown up together. She started working for the casino when it first opened in 1995, under tents and in trailers, as a money changer and server. “We were so small that we had combined positions. So I changed money, and served cokes and peanuts,” she recalled. Through the years, the mother of four was promoted to a number of managerial roles in slots, cashiering, and food and beverage -- she served as the director of food and beverage for 10 years -- before being named vice president.
So why her?
Toscano believes that loyalty landed her the job. “Loyalty to the tribe, to the property, the years invested, and the knowledge of working at this property for so long; I think that really nailed it for me.”
The new vice president and only woman on Pechanga’s nine-member leadership team, Toscano oversees 11 dining establishments, including the 454-seat buffet, the nine-station food court, hotel catering, banquets and room service. “My short-term goal is to increase revenue at the restaurant and get us through the expansion.” Long-term? She claimed, “The sky’s the limit for this department.”
Toscano said when she isn’t busy managing at least 1,200 Pechanga food and beverage employees, she likes hanging out with her five grandchildren, who she refers to as her “hobby.” The busy executive, who loves to work, said, “That’s all I have time for at this point.”
Lynn Armitage is a contributing business writer to Indian Country Today Media Network, and an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.