Basilo pursued Japanese culture at Epcot


Food Service Manager, Erin Basilo (center) at her old job in the Epcot Japanese Pavilion.

As manager of the Japanese EPCOT pavilion, interacting with people who were born and raised in Japan, and learning Japanese to give a full Japanese experience to her guests; food service manager Erin Basilo, has a past not many people would guess.

“I enjoyed interacting with my guests, and the pleasure of me being able to make them feel either at home or make them feel as if they were in Japan,” Basilo said.

Basilo worked for eight years as a manager for the international company Mitukoshi, in the Japanese pavilion in Walt Disney. She was in charge of multiple restaurants: Katsura Grill, Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo. As the leader, she would supervise restaurant serving styles and over 100 employees.

“One of the hardest things was the communication barrier,” Basilo said. “Every six months I would get new employees from Japan so I had to learn how to communicate with them just as much as they had to learn how to communicate with me.”

Even today, her Japanese is not perfect, especially after not using it for seven years. However, Basilo, was able to learn it by emerging herself into the culture.

“It was a very slow process, but because I was there all of the time, it became a habit, and I was able to learn it enough to where I can communicate with others,” Basilo said.

Although the job made her feel in her “own place,” Basilo had to leave her job due to lack of breaks given. Basilo has three kids at home, two of them who attend Hagerty and one who is in sixth grade at Lawton Chiles.

“I missed a lot of their lives,” Basilo said. “I had no set days off, no set hours, I had to beg just to get Christmas Day off and that was the only holiday I had. I was never with my family.”

That is the reason she left, and started working at the school as food service manager seven years ago. She gets to see her kids every day, interacts with other students, and has free time to do other hobbies like working out.

“When I was out working in the Pavilion, I loved working with the guests and the students are my guests now – it’s what I thrive off of,” Basilo said.

With a job that gives her more breaks and holidays, Basilo is now able to spend time with her family and work out at a four-week outdoor group fitness program called Camp Gladiator.

“I work out boot camp style, three to four days a week and it make me feel really good , not only the actual workout but to have the time to work, with my kids and to do something I like,” Basilo said.