Co-ops serve up success at top restaurant

Boston’s L’Espalier consistently receives “top restaurant” awards, and Northeastern’s co-op students and graduates play no small role in its success.

Two co-op students are now employed full-time by New France, LLC, the parent company of L’Espalier, which “Boston Magazine” has named both the No. 2 restaurant in Boston and the city’s best French restaurant. The company also runs Sel De La Terre, which serves French cuisine at three Boston area locations, and Au Soleil, a catering company and wholesale bakery.

Since 2004, the university has sent 12 students to work at L’Espalier. Several of them have joined New France full-time since graduating, including a private events coordinator and a dining room manager. The company also employs a former co-op student as part-time hostess.

Famed chef and proprietor of New France, Frank McClelland, spoke highly of Northeastern co-op students.

“I have been blown away by the maturity of the Northeastern students I have employed over the past five years and how open-minded they approach each position,” said McClelland. “The students take their jobs very seriously and consistently go above and beyond what is expected of them.”

Lauren Loschiavo, a Northeastern alumna, worked at L’Espalier in a co-op job and returned shortly after to help the newly hired chief financial officer learn the business. Loschiavo had another co-op position on the corporate side of New France during its expansion to a Sel De La Terre location and office, and the start of the catering company. She graduated from Northeastern in 2008 with a degree in business administration and a concentration in entrepreneurship and marketing. She is now the marketing manager of New France.

“What is unique about the relationship between L’Espalier and Northeastern is that I think we are the only restaurant that hires co-ops,” said Loschaivo. “A lot of the people we hire have aspirations of opening up their own restaurant one day, and many end up staying in the hospitality industry.”

Kelly Daigle, an entrepreneurship and marketing major, recently finished her co-op in New France’s corporate office. Daigle had applied for co-op positions at several different businesses, but even after being offered a job at another company, she decided to hold out for the job she really wanted—at New France.

“Day to day, there were a lot of operational tasks I was doing, from invoicing to accounts receivable and payable, cost analysis and marketing projects,” said Daigle. “Halfway through my co-op, though, the focus shifted to increasing web presence, which was very interesting.”

She spoke of the wide range of opportunities she explored during her first co-op job and how her experience has been one of growth and opportunity. “Lauren always had great tasks for me to do and gave me a lot of freedom to figure things out and make projects my own.”

Business majors, especially those with marketing and entrepreneurship concentrations, typically apply for the company’s co-op positions. Loschiavo says she expects the relationship between New France and Northeastern to continue “until the end of time.”