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Nicole Alvarez
Photograph: Lynsey WeatherspoonNicole Alvarez

Nicole Alvarez knows the merits of hard work and good wine

The 24-year-old student juggles hospitality dreams and lawyerly ambitions while working at a top Atlanta restaurant

Written by
Gerrish Lopez

Nicole Alvarez is a master of multitasking. While attending Georgia Gwinnett College full time, she also works full time as a server and sommelier at Atlanta’s acclaimed restaurant The Alden. On top of her studies in Political Science, she’s in the process of taking her Certified Sommelier Certification test. She’s considering law school once she completes her undergraduate degree, but may pursue her Advanced Sommelier Certification during a break from school. Both the LSAT and the Certification require a great deal of dedication and a whole lot of studying, but Alvarez can handle it. 

Future Seekers - Nicole Alvarez
Photograph: Lynsey Weatherspoon

Alvarez has followed in her parents’ footsteps, as they both worked in restaurants and hotels. The 24-year-old has been working in restaurants since high school. She loves the challenge of learning about wine and feels that dining is an intimate experience where people make memories with friends and family. As a sommelier, she aims to be an instrumental part of that experience. She loves witnessing special moments over meals and knows how a great wine can be an essential element. She wants to make wine selection more approachable and works with the team at The Alden in a collaborative style to find new wines that enhance the globally-inspired food at The Alden.

When not studying or working, Nicole enjoys the best of what Atlanta has to offer. Here’s a look at her day.

Future Seekers - Nicole Alvarez
Photograph: Lynsey Weatherspoon

Here's how Nicole spends her day


This part of the day is all about studying, a rare couple of hours to grind out some work—either homework for school or studying for the theory exam section of the Sommelier Test. 



After a round of studying, it’s time for lunch. The Vortex is a top choice for midday dining. Nicole will usually go for a classic Bypass burger (a flame-grilled sirloin burger between two bacon-grilled cheese sandwiches) with pineapple salsa on the side is her go-to. She pairs it with a Mexican Coke (“wayyyy better than a regular one”).


A walk around Little Five Points for some thrifting is next. Nicole is partial to Junkman’s Daughter, Psycho Sisters, Rag O'Rama and Clothing Warehouse. After that, an easy walk over to the Beltline opens up more opportunities for afternoon shopping and dining.



Ponce City Market is a favorite for shopping or just strolling. Nicole likes to check out Posman Books, Citizen’s Supply or The Victorian. After that, a walk along the eastside trail of the Beltline presents several opportunities for drinks or a snack. Nicole enjoys Bazati and Estrella Rooftop. There’s Mexican food upstairs and French food downstairs. Depending on her mood, she’ll get either a French 75 or a Spicy Margarita (“it’s a win-win situation”). Another option is New Realm Brewing, as she’s always down for a sour or fruit beer. Plus, it’s a great spot to enjoy the weather and the sun.


After drinks at Bazati and Estrella Rooftop, Nicole just might stick around for dinner. Then the decision is between mussels, pasta and steak frites or tapas. Her drink of choice to complement the meal would be either an Italian pinot grigio or a Spanish Garnacha. But a margarita will always suffice.



Most nights Nicole will have to head home for a night of studying, whether for the Sommelier test or for school. After that, she’ll unwind with a book (“I have a mini library in my room, absolutely love reading”). But if she can fit it in, a drink at the Clermont Hotel or The James Room are great spots to wind down at the end of a night.  


For Nicole, “self-care when you’re working tons is KEY–you can’t neglect yourself.” This means getting to bed at a reasonable hour. She’ll hit the shower after a long day, complete her skincare routine, do a little more stretching, and listen to music or scroll through TikTok before heading to bed. For a little extra self-care, Nicole heads to Jeju Sauna, a 24-hour Korean sauna with steam rooms, saunas and hot/cold pools. 

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