Ellen Picataggio has the hospitality industry in her blood. Her family emigrated from their native Korea to Las Vegas in 1971, and purchased their first hotel, the Minuteman, that same year. In 1979, the Cho family relocated to the quaint beach resort community of Lincoln City, OR, following their purchase of the historic Surftides.
From the time she could see over the hotel reception desk, Ellen was taught “diligence and flexibility were keys to success. I’ve been working since I was 9, and received my first paycheck at 14.” That work ethic has served her well throughout her years studying art history and English literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and then again when she ventured into the workforce-developing an upscale deli in Manhattan and acting as operations manager for an international clothing manufacturer based in Berkeley.
Ellen’s family purchased the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel in Los Angeles’ Fairfax District in the late ’90s, with the view of restoring the mid-century motel to its former glory. In 2000, Ellen, along with her husband, Peter Picataggio, took over management of the Farmer’s Daughterand oversaw the successful design and re-branding of the property.
Working with local artists and designers, the Picataggios unveiled the refreshed boutique hotel and its adjoining restaurant, TART, to rave reviews. This success led the couple to accept a new challenge after taking over the management the Surftides in 2007-revamping the Lincoln City landmark and turning it into one of coastal Oregon’s premier boutique properties. “My childhood memories of Lincoln City are so dear to me that I’ve always wanted to share them with the world,” Ellen says. “I love the dramatic landscapes and abundant natural beauty of the area.”
As principal of the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel Group, Ellen oversees the brand identities and design development of the Los Angeles hotel and TART, as well as Surftides and the Bel-Aire Inn Express, which are also located in Lincoln City. She splits her time between Lincoln City and Southern California, where she and Peter are raising their two sons.
Peter Picataggio grew up in a large Italian family on Staten Island, and came to the hotel industry by chance after meeting his wife, Ellen. When Ellen’s family offered the couple the chance to take over management of the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel in Los Angeles, the former Silicon Valley systems engineer applied his considerable talent for business development to the project.
After studying the property and the location, Peter and Ellen rose to the challenge of renovating what he deemed an icon in need of a makeover and take the property to a new level of success, complete with a new brand identity. “Since 2003, we’ve developed a very loyal following at the Farmer’s Daughter. In fact, our logo has achieved something of a cult-like status; I find people wearing our T-shirts everywhere.”
After their success with the Farmer’s Daughter, the Picataggios were just as enthusiastic when they took over management of the Surftides from the Cho family in 2007, sensing its potential as a boutique hotel in a stunning locale. Together, they are reinventing the historic property, applying their signature playful aesthetic while nurturing their love of the community and their belief that these elements are essential for not just a successful business, but also a fulfilling life.
Overseeing the management of all four Farmer’s Daughter Hotel Group properties-the Los Angeles property and its restaurant, TART, as well as Surftides and the Bel-Aire Inn Express in Lincoln City-Peter finds his lack of formal training to be one of the hotel group’s greatest strengths. “My friends and colleagues who have gone through training at more traditionally branded properties can sometimes be bound by policies that are focused on the ‘dos and don’ts,’ ” he notes. “To me, this can sometimes hold back the creative experience for the hotel and its guests. We are lucky to have the freedom to create a more interesting and eclectic experiences. Ellen and I are always hearing feedback about how staying at our hotels is so refreshing and unpretentious-and I plan to keep it that way.”
Peter splits his time between Lincoln City and Southern California, where he and Ellen are raising their two sons.