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Vol. 66

© Spring 2021

BUILDING BETTER BEVERAGE BUSINESS ™

Celebrating the life of

“Big Jim” James Flaherty


Uncle Nearest won more than 50 awards and accolades in 2019 and more than 90 awards and accolades in 2020. Drink Honorably™ Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, 50% and 46.5% Alc/Vol, Nearest Green Distillery, Shelbyville, TN. © 2021 Uncle Nearest Inc.

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PUBLISHER’S LETTER

Don Billings Publisher, in the Mix Media

“ T h e re is hu g e pen t-u p de m a n d t o g et on th e ro a d a n d g et tog eth er in pe r so n . S o man y ev en ts h a v e b e e n postpon ed – w e d d in gs, v a ca tion s, ann iv e r sa r ie s . T h ere is simp ly n o v ir t u a l rep lacemen t for them.” — Bill Marriott

The Reset

I’ve stopped looking back and am focused only on the future. With vaccines being administered and more and more restaurants and bars reopening for dine-in service, we are beginning to feel a breeze at our backs. For the past year, we have all witnessed and participated in a supply and demand shift. From pre- to post-pandemic, we have seen significant changes that have taken their toll on the full-service restaurants and hotels chains, as consumers stopped traveling and indoor dining was shutdown. This is an industry that works on lean margins to begin with. And we saw the results in thousands of restaurants closing their doors. According to Technomic, sales declined with a loss of approximately $267 billion. We came into this pandemic in an inflated market in 2019. We have moved from an oversupply to an undersupply, which means a very favorable demand shift as we forge ahead in 2021. Several of our parent company clients have indicated they have either begun to, or are ready to, move forward aggressively. This should mean a period of strong growth, especially by the on-premise chains. The demand is here but it will still take time to come back to full social interaction in restaurants, hotels, and convention and sports venues. Operators are now shifting to a reemergence position or rebound, with sales projected to jump 20 percent this year. The reset has other consequences. During the pandemic, technology has been applied to help compensate. Much of this already existed but this was an opportunity for the technology to grow quickly and prove its worth, especially in the area of delivery and takeout, but also for the back of house. New products like Sestra Systems, GoTab and No Brick are entering the marketplace, just to name a few. The industry will continue to focus on health and safety on one hand, but also to aggressively get back in the game through increased digital offerings such as online and mobile ordering and loyalty programs, in order to stay engaged with their customers. The reset is real and the wind is now at our back, so let’s look forward to a healthy and growth-filled year. – Don Billings

Fall 2019 • itmmag.com

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EDITOR’S LETTER Welcome to the Spring 2021 issue. We have a full magazine for this first season of the year. We congratulate all the restaurants, hotels and resorts that are starting to open up again! In this edition, we celebrate the life of an icon of the national account business, “Big” Jim Flaherty. Jim was a pioneer of the trade and respected by all. Also, we take a look back at the life and times of another on-premise trade icon, Donna Frederick, who recently retired. A really fun interview by Celeste Dinos recaps many of the highlights of Donna’s career. Our interview with Tim Ruys of Prime Hospitality Group is relevant in the current times. Tim talks about trends and changes in today’s hospitality business climate. Samantha Des Jardins, from Datassential, pens an article about natural and additive-free wines. It’s an informative look at this trendy and clean way of making wines. These articles, and more, are inside for your enjoyment. Have a great springtime! Mike Raven Managing Editor, in the Mix Media

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A WINE THAT KNOWS WHERE IT COMES FROM BOENWINES.COM © 2021 Copper Cane LLC, St. Helena, CA

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Contents

14

Cover Story 34.

Remembering “Big” Jim Flaherty

Features 10.

IMI’s Creative Services Department and Technology Services

20.

Why Hire a Hospitality Grad? by Joel Feigeheimer, Ph.D.

26.

IMI’s Brandon Wise Picked by Nation’s Restaurant News Readers

44.

Bringing the Food & Beverage Industry Online — SESTRA Smart

Dispensing Control System

48.

Natural, Additive-Free Wine Grows Amid Consumer Focus on Clean

Ingredients by Samantha Des Jardins, Datassential

Interviews 14.

Tim Ruys, Operating Partner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Granger,

Indiana and Regional Beverage Manager, Prime Hospitality Group

52.

175 Years of Tradition and Excellence — Take 5 Interview with Edoardo

Branca, Managing Director, Branca USA

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Donna Frederick, an interview with a National Account Salesperson

Legend

Recipe Articles

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Springtime Inspiration Recipes from Melissa Nasits, Monin Beverage

Innovation Manager

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“A fresh perspective on California’s great varietals. Our Cabernet Sauvignon is emboldened by a touch of Petite Sirah.” Jamie Benziger 2nd Generation Winemaker

B R O A D E N Y O U R PA L AT E

imagerywinery.com ©2021 Imagery Estate Winery, Glen Ellen, CA. All rights reserved.

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Contributing Writers Writers Contributing

BUILDING BETTER BEVERAGE BUSINESS BUILDING BETTER BEVERAGE BUSINESS

Known as “The Modern Mixologist,” Known Modern Mixologist,” Tony as is “The an accomplished bar chef, Tony is an and accomplished speaker consultant bar whochef, has speaker and consultant who recipes, has created several original cocktail created several originalCar, cocktail recipes, including the Cable Sunsplash and including the Cable Car, Sunsplash andhis Starlight. He has recently authored Celeste Dinos is the ViceStarlight. has recently authored(Agate his second He book, Vodka Distilled book, Vodka Distilled (Agate President and Partner of second IMI Surrey, publisher). Surrey, publisher).

Agency, and an Associate Editor of in the Mix. She conducted the interview with herTony friendAbou-Ganim Donna Frederick. Tony Abou-Ganim

Celeste Dinos Mike Kostyo is the resident Mike Kostyo is at theDatassential, resident Trendologist Trendologist at Datassential, the food industry’s leading the food industry’s leading market research firm. For market firm.about For more research information more information about Datassential’s 2021 trends or Datassential’s trends the Future of2021 Drink reporort, the FutureKostyo of Drink repor t, contact at mike@ contact Kostyo at mike@ datassential.com. datassential.com.

PUBLISHER PUBLISHER

D o n B illin g s D o n B illin g s E D I TOR I A L A N D D E S I GN E D I TOR I A L A N D D E S I GN

Mike Kostyo Mike Kostyo

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Samantha Des Jardins

Dr. Joel Feigenheimer

Samantha Des Jardins is a copywriter and author for Datassential which is the leading market research agency helping food & beverage companies of all sizes andHelen segments innovate, Benefield Helen Billings Benefield sell, and plan Billings for the future, backed by the Hospitality and Travel Hospitality Travelindustry. writer, andand creator of best data in the writer, and creator of

Dr. Joel Feigenheimer is a former operator and an Assistant Professor at The Chaplin School of Hospitality, Florida International University.

“Making the Rounds,” “Making the Rounds,” Helen Benefield Billings Helen Benefield has been with Billings in the has been with the Mix since its in inception Mix since its inception in 2004. Helen lives in in her 2004. Helen lives in native childhood her native childhood home of Sea Island, home of Seanot Island, Ga. when travelling Ga. when not or attending travelling industry orfunctions attendingwith industry her functions with her husband, Don. husband, Don.

in the Mix Magazine

Larr y McGinn, Par tner Larr y McGinn, Par tner Celeste Dinos, Par tner Celeste Dinos, Par tner Don Billings, Founding Par tner Don Billings, Founding Par tner

Dr. Joel Dr. Joel Feigenheimer Feigenheimer Dr. Jo el Dr. Joel Feigenheimer is a Feigenheimer is a for m er oper ator forand m eranoper ator Assistant and an Assistant Professor at The Profes s or School at The of Chaplin Chaplin School ofida Hos pitality, Flor Hos pitality, Flor ida Inter national Inter national Univer sity. Univer sity.

Managing Editor – Michael Raven Managing Editor Michael Raven Designed by – –Kester Chau of DFE Media Designed by – Kester Chau Media Neal Copy Editor & Proofreaderof–DFE Christine Copy Editor Editor & Proofreader Christine Neal Associate – Celeste– Dinos Associate Editor – Celeste Associate Editor – Helen Dinos Benefield Billings Associate Editor – Helen Benefield Billings E D I TOR I A L A N D BU S I N E S S OFFIC E E D I TOR I A L A N D BU S I N E S S OF FIC E 1 1 9 6 B u c k h e a d C ro s s in g 1 1Wo 9 6 oBdusctkohceka,dGCAro3 s0s1in 8 9g Wo o d s t o c k , G A 3 0 1 8 9 P H O N E 7 7 0 - 9 2 8 - 1 9 8 0 | FA X 7 7 0 - 5 1 7 - 8 8 4 9 P H O N E 7 7 0 - 9 2 8 - 1 9 8 0 | FA X 7 7 0 - 5 1 7- 8 8 4 9 E M A I L m ike @ it m m a g .c o m E M A I L m ike @ it m m a g .c o m WE B I T M m a g .c o m WE B I T M m a g .c o m i n t h e M i x is p u b lis h e d q u a r t e r ly. R e p ro du cti o n o f a ny i n pthhoet oMg ri xapis r ly. p Re f a ny hy,p aurbtlis woh rekd, qour a rctoepy re pparo redu d cti byo nin othe Mix p hiso t os tgrric apt ly hy, paro r thwo r ke,d ow r itchoopy p ar rewdr i tte by nin p the ib it u t ppre r io e r m iMix ssi o n is osft rtic p reio p eer rm iassi h et lyp upbro lishhib e r.it e d T hw e itahdoveu rt t is r sr aw n dr i tte p u bn l i sh re onno t o f ret hs pe opnus biblis T hbelea dfo verr tm is is e rin s fo a nrm d aptiuobnl i,shme irsparre n o to r leh eor.r lia i n ts, retsyppoongsribapleh icoarl elia b ler s .foArll m iscint ro fo rnma m ibsp i n ts, o r in rro e le ic ti fi ol ens, su m ri tte d to t y pt hoeg M r ap e rro s .pAe ll fi lzie ns esu d the to in i xhbice ac lo m e p rro r t ye le o fctthro e nmica ga . ©b2m0i1tte 9 in Mix t h ea nMd i xBbueild c oinmge Bpero o f rt ahgeemBaug sa ine zi n ess™ . © 2 01 11 99 6in Bthe t tpeerr tByeve u ckMix head a nC d ro B us sild B eotdt setro B ess™ u ck h ed.a d in in g , gWo c keve , GrAa g3e0 1B8u9s in . A l l R i g1h1ts9 6R eBse r ve C ro s s in g , Wo o d s t o c k , G A 3 0 1 8 9 . A ll R i g h ts R e se r ve d.

in the Mix is exclusively operated and owned by Incentive in Marketing the Mix is Inc exclusively operated and owned by Incentive . Marketing Inc . Submissions: Incentive Marketing Inc. assumes Submissions: Incentive Marketing Inc. assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or nophotographs. responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs.

1 Summer 2014 • itmmag.com 1 Summer 2014 • itmmag.com


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IMANAGE

MENUS

EASY-TO-EXECUTE QR CODE DIGITAL MENUS JUST IN TIME FOR A SPRING LTO FOR DIGITAL OR PRINT QR Coded Menus are here to stay because they’re easyto-execute, editable without needing to be reprinted and they have the option of being all text or enhanced with mouth-watering imagery of your featured appetizers and thirst-quenching beverage specials. This happens all before your customer has even scrolled down to the entrée section. Use this flexible platform to drive beverage sales.

SCAN TO VIEW ONLINE MENU

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Here are some examples of guest-facing printed deliverables to support your online menu in both restaurant and hotel markets.

Restaurant LTO’s

Thirsty anyone?

Thirsty anyone? FOR EVERY GLASS OF BEER YOU PURCHASE NOW THROUGH XX/XX/XXXX,

FOR EVERY GLASS OF WINE YOU PURCHASE NOW THROUGH XX/XX/XXXX,

Thirsty anyone?

FOR EVERY COCKTAIL YOU PURCHASE NOW THROUGH XX/XX/XXXX, we’ll donate $X to name of charity/cause, or our servers and bartenders tip fund. We’re committed to the safety and wellness of our customers. We have practices in place so you can safely enjoy carryout or delivery.

we’ll donate $X to name of charity/cause, or our servers and bartenders tip fund. We’re committed to the safety and wellness of our customers. We have practices in place so you can safely enjoy carryout or delivery.

we’ll donate $X to name of charity/cause, or our servers and bartenders tip fund. We’re committed to the safety and wellness of our customers. We have practices in place so you can safely enjoy carryout or delivery. LOGO

LOGO

LOGO

GUEST-FACING POSTERS

Hotel LTO’s

TABLE TENT

FOR EVERY GLASS OF WINE YOU PURCHASE NOW THROUGH XX/XX/XXXX,

FOR EVERY BEER YOU PURCHASE NOW THROUGH XX/XX/XXXX,

we’ll donate $X to name of charity/cause, or our servers and bartenders tip fund.

we’ll donate $X to name of charity/cause, or our servers and bartenders tip fund.

Challenging times tend to bring out the best in all of us. We find ways to help each other, so we can all come out ok. With that in mind, we invite you to enjoy a drink, knowing a portion of the price will support a very worthy cause.

Challenging times tend to bring out the best in all of us. We find ways to help each other, so we can all come out ok. With that in mind, we invite you to enjoy a drink, knowing a portion of the price will support a very worthy cause.

Thank you for caring, and for choosing to be our guest today!

Thank you for caring, and for choosing to be our guest today!

FOR EVERY COCKTAIL YOU PURCHASE NOW THROUGH XX/XX/XXXX, WE’LL DONATE $X TO NAME OF CHARITY/CAUSE, OR OUR SERVERS AND BARTENDERS TIP FUND. Challenging times tend to bring out the best in all of us. We find ways to help each other, so we can all come out ok. With that in mind, we invite you to enjoy a drink, knowing a portion of the price will support a very worthy cause. Thank you for caring, and for choosing to be our guest today!

GUEST-FACING POSTERS

IN-ROOM SIGNAGE Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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IMANAGE

VIRTUAL

FULL-SERVICE SUPPORT FOR YOUR VIRTUAL EVENT Meetings and events today invariably include utilizing an online format that’s 100% virtual, with all participants attending from remote locations via their preferred devices. Compatibility and Convenience Our solutions provide a smooth, easy integration with your preferred video conferencing tools (Zoom, Webex, Teams, GoToWebinar, etc), as well as mobile optimization with homescreen access. Our team of experienced strategic event experts can help you plan, promote, monetize, and implement an engaging, successful event-every time. For more information, contact us at events@imiagency.com today.

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ADD-ONS! SALES INCENTIVES: iManagePromo™ Scoreboard | This online application helps you track, manage, and promote your LTOs, incentivizing your outlet managers by providing them clear goals and the ability to track their progress. SOCIAL SUPPORT: Let us develop a social media PR campaign to help promote your beverage initiatives.

IMANAGEPROMO™ SCOREBOARD

Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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in the Mix In-Depth Interview with Tim Ruys Tim Ruys is the operating partner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Granger, Indiana and the Regional Beverage Manager for Prime Hospitality Group. Tim is a veteran of over 40 years in the hospitality industry, owning or operating in all facets of the hospitality business from barbecue to fine dining, both nationally and internationally. Tim is from the San Francisco Bay area and attended the University of Oregon. He is a trained chef and sommelier. Tim has been with Ruth’s since 2005 and worked on the corporate side before coming to the PHG in 2011. During his tenure, Tim has led his teams to increase both sales and profits at the restaurant, and has coordinated the wine lists and drink lists for all locations. He writes a wine column in the South Bend Tribune, does a hospitality spot for local radio, and is an industry consultant and speaker. Tim lives in Granger with his wife, Diane. They enjoy cooking, traveling and of course, a nice bottle of wine! 14

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in the Mix: 2020 was a tough year for all restaurant operators. How did PHG make it through? Tim Ruys: Perseverance! The whole company rallied. Employees, managers and home office staff all put in the time and extra work needed to try new approaches and modify existing practices. Taking a fine dining steakhouse to a carry-out only was a challenge but ended up as a great lesson in teamwork and strategic planning. ITM: Heading into springtime, how many of your restaurants are open? TR: All our restaurants are open in some capacity. Many are still at 50 percent capacity, some less than that, and some still have no bar top available. ITM: Can you tell us a little about the history of Prime Hospitality Group? TR: PHG owns and manages seven Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses, a wine bistro called Bin 23 and 2 cocktail bars called The Exchange. Our owners, Kristy and Ryan Rans, first got involved with our restaurants over 6 years ago.

Since that time, PHG established a full support system and corporate office in Indianapolis that has us poised for growth. Kristy and Ryan are passionate about hospitality and it shows in everyone who works at Prime Hospitality Group. ITM: Have your beverage offerings changed since guests have been dining at home more this past year? TR: For a short period, we were able to sell cocktails to-go at some locations. And some of our restaurants do have a to-go license that lets us sell full bottles out the door. ITM: Have you activated any virtual wine dinners? TR: Yes, we have done two so far, and look forward to more. We have partnered with Heaven Hill for a Bourbon tasting later in the year and have eight Tastemaker Series dinners planned that have a virtual component to them. Our guests really love them! ITM: With guests returning to PHG restaurants, have you seen their beverage order habits change?

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse’s new location in Chesterfield, Missouri is their second in the St. Louis area.

Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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TR: We have seen the same trends that are running nationally, namely wine sales down slightly and liquor sales up, with beer sales flat to down. ITM: Have you altered any steps of service related to beverage? TR: With COVID, we incorporated additional safeguards for our guests, such as putting wrapped straws on the side and reducing garnishes. ITM: IMI has been assisting you in organizing a beverage program across the PHG portfolio. What are your expectations from this effort? TR: The folks at IMI have been great. I am impressed with their knowledge of brands, where the industry is trending and

RIGHT: The Exchange Whiskey Bar in Indianapolis is a craft cocktail and whiskey bar featuring over 450 whiskies and specializes in creating vintage speakeasy cocktails. LEFT AND BELOW: Bin 23, a bistro, bar and marketplace located in Granger, Indiana.

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what cocktails and spirits are “hot” right now. I believe working together, we can put out some innovative lists that still maximize profitability for our company. ITM: Hosting in-person supplier and distributor meetings are tough these days. How have you been handling beverage RFP meetings? TR: Great question. Last year, we did everything over the phone. It was pretty old school! This year, our RFP meetings are being set up in July. We are keeping our fingers crossed that most of the country will be back to normal. If not, I feel comfortable that IMI can get us through virtually or using hybrid communications. ITM: What guidance can you give suppliers and distributors on presenting the “right” brands and activations for PHG? TR: Find that unique item that can set us apart from others without scaring off the guest. Understanding the customer profile for each of our concepts is the key to sales success.

BELOW: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse’s new location in Chesterfield, Missouri is their second in the St. Louis area.

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We have had good success with buying out a particular offering or vintage. ITM: Please tell us about the newest gem in the PHG portfolio. TR: We just opened our newest Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Chesterfield, Missouri. It is absolutely beautiful and one of the largest Ruth’s Chris in the country. The new restaurant occupies approximately 16,600 square feet of indoor space, with seating for up to 450 guests. Three outdoor dining opportunities are also available, with one outside on the ground level and two on the roof. The restaurant also features three bars, six private dining rooms (one with access to a private outdoor patio), wine lockers and a double-sided fireplace. The facility was designed by Indianapolis-based Phanomen Design. Particular attention was paid to using eco-friendly building materials and equipment, including all LED lighting, certified energy efficient AC units, hood fans, refrigeration and water heaters. With safety being a priority, the building’s HVAC system is equipped with an air purifying system to deliver clean indoor air.


Trellis Continues to Grow its Industry-Leading Portfolio of Independent Winemakers & Distillers Founded by Derek Benham in 2001, Purple Brands produces an acclaimed portfolio of wines and several burgeoning spirits in Northern California, all CA Certified Sustainable. Purple Brands is well-known to National Accounts On-Premise, and we look forward to expanding the reach of these excellent and strategically priced wines & spirits. Welcome to our family, Purple Brands!

Founded by industry veteran, Danny Keefe, Grapejuice Group imports premium distinguished European wines with distinct sense of place and strong environmental commitments. From glou-glou by-the-glass options, to single vineyard Barolo from Daniele Conterno (!!), Grapejuice Group is equipped to provide unique options—both trendy and traditional—to groups at all check averages. Welcome to Trellis!

Barrow's Intense Ginger Liqueur is hand-made in Brooklyn with fresh Ginger. No extracts, no chemicals, just lots and lots of fresh Ginger. Founded by Josh Morton and already familiar to National & Strategic Accounts, Barrow’s Intense Ginger is the bartender-approved, fiery modifier to light up your cocktail program. Welcome, Josh & Barrow’s Intense!

Founded by wine industry veteran, Mark Clinard, Both Barrels is a wine importer and agent focusing on family-owned wineries. We are excited to bring Both Barrels into the fold and show you their gorgeous and well-reviewed Loire wines from Oscar Brillant! We are Sancerre-ly grateful to have them onboard!

Please join us in welcoming new independent partners to The Trellis Wine & Spirits family!

Real Families. Real Wines. Real Support. We invite you to pick the wines & spirits you really want. What will excite your staff & guests. Together, we can make menus more interesting and keep family producers alive & thriving! -Proud Families -Historic Brands -New Discoveries -Established Players -True Artisans, Real People

Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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Why Hire a Hospitality Grad? By Joel Feigeheimer Ph.D., Assistant Professor The Chaplin School of Hospitality Florida International University How does one build a high performing team of employees? Well, it certainly helps to have a great pool of applicants to start from and move forward from there. I am from the school of hiring for “attitude versus experience.” Hospitality school graduates are already invested into our industry. While most of our employees work in hospitality on their way to some other career path, hospitality grads have already been working for years in our industry learning how to develop their own hospitality career path. 20

in the Mix Magazine

Hospitality graduates, by their sheer commitment to earning that degree, have shown that they want to be in our industry. They have slogged through at least four years of courses ranging from cooking and accounting to basic management skills. In the better universities, such as Florida international University, they are taught critical thinking skills where they are pushed to make decisions that mimic real life scenarios. In addition, most schools require hundreds of hours of internships where the student is required to work in the hotel or restaurant field. These internships often shake out those students who are not dedicated to the industry. When they realize the commitment required to succeed, those students who are not totally convinced that this is their career path often decide to move elsewhere.


BECAUSE CELEBRATIONS COME IN ALL SIZES

g n i th y n A te a r b #Cele

Our award-winning Spanish Cava comes in all shapes and sizes. Perfect for your next celebration, no matter how large or small. For more information, contact National Sales Director Tom Bernth, tom.bernth@jgc.es Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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That gives employers their choice of individuals who have devoted four years to both schoolwork and industry work as employee candidates. Compare that to most of the applicants walking through your door who have their priorities focused on another direction. In addition, most of these graduates are looking at the hospitality industry as their long-term career path. They have the “want to” gene, and that desire to succeed in our industry is more valuable than someone working for you but keeping their eyes on a career path in engineering, acting or any other non-hospitality path. As a former boss used to say, “It’s easier to train a dog to take food to a table, than training an employee to be gracious, warm and hospitable who is not already that way.” As with any new hire, it is still incumbent upon us as employers to vet any applicant. Hiring hospitality graduates is not an absolute slam dunk. However, it does give us great insight into the background of these future employees. In an industry where pennies count and we want to maximize our chances of success, there is no doubt that hiring the hospitality graduate increases those chances. Desire, work ethic, history of interest in our industry and the wish to be part of hospitality all combine to make hospitality graduates a great choice when hiring for your business.

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For more information, Jessie Griggs Vice President, On-Premise National Accounts (314) 537-7757 JGriggs@Duckhorn.com

Spring 2019 • itmmag.com

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PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY. MUST BE 21+. DUCKHORN WINE COMPANY, ST. HELENA, CA© † NOT A LOW CALORIE FOOD. SEE NUTRITIONAL PANEL FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON SUGAR AND CALORIE CONTENT.


Spring Inspiration from Melissa Nasits of

Health and wellness are still at the forefront of everyone’s minds, especially as we shake off the frostbite of winter and head into spring. Melissa Nasits, Beverage Innovation Manager for Monin, has a passion for creating innovative, flavorful and healthy beverage recipes. Her focus is on health and wellness, and she advocates the importance of creating recipes that support both the mind and the body. With more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Melissa has worked under esteemed chefs including Wolfgang Puck and Roy Yamaguchi. She has also created cocktail lists, built wine programs and opened restaurants for a variety of nightclubs, cruise ships, cocktail bars and fine dining restaurants. As a diabetic, fitness instructor and fitness competitor, Melissa is determined to show the versatility of food and beverage in our diet as a pleasure and as a remedy. These four libations combine a mixture of whimsy, wellness and springtime flair, so you can hit your internal defrost button and bring your beverage menus into the light of spring.

Strawberry Blossom “Florals are popping up everywhere! The aroma, color and complex flavor make it a versatile tool in every innovator’s bag, though florals can still be off-putting to some customers, which is why the added strawberry in this drink makes it even more enchanting. This drink also has a silky, foamy texture with an extra sparkle of bubbles to make everything even better! Try your hand at painting a design on the outside of the glass using syrup, then sprinkling on colored sugar to really wow your guests and elevate this libation even further.” Glass Size: 9 oz. 1 oz. premium Vodka 1 oz. Monin Strawberry Rose Syrup 1 oz. fresh lemon juice 1 oz. pasteurized egg white 2 oz. Champagne or sparkling wine Shake and strain into chilled serving glass. Top with sparkling beverage.

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Golden Ring

“Ginger is spicy, versatile and is one of the hottest flavor profiles out there right now. It is both good for you and very tasty, and I wanted to showcase it in the fan-favorite margarita cocktail. The touch of honey adds a healthy component and also helps to smooth out the spicy ginger notes while elevating the flavors in the drink.” Glass Size: 14 oz. 1 ½ oz. premium Tequila ½ oz. orange liqueur ½ oz. Monin Honey Organic Sweetener ½ oz. Monin Ginger Syrup 1 oz. fresh lemon juice 1 oz. fresh orange juice Shake with ice. Strain into glass with ice.

Lavender Lillet Highball

“Low ABV is a buzzword in the industry right now. After a crazy year of overindulgence, we are seeing people really embrace ‘lighter drinking.’ This soothing cocktail brings together honey and lavender for a relaxing, balanced sipper that is made even more trendy with its highball nature. Drink at the spa, by the pool, at lunch or on the town – it’s acceptable anywhere!” Glass Size: 12 oz. 1 ½ oz. Lillet Blanc ½ oz. Monin Lavender Syrup ½ oz. Monin Honey Syrup 3 oz. soda water Stir in glass with ice.

Muy Caliente

“In most parts of the country, people are still shaking off the winter icicles. It can also mean flu and allergies, depending on what part of the country you live in. I am a big fan of a classic hot toddy, but this little gem uses Tequila, which is a home remedy in and of itself! But what’s even better is that this drink is packed with over 500 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C as well as vitamins D and B3, and zinc, echinacea and elderberry — and you can’t even taste it!” Glass Size: 14 oz. Rinse of Mezcal 1 ½ oz. Reposado Tequila 1 oz. Monin Honey Organic Sweetener ½ oz. Monin Immunity Boost 1 oz. fresh lemon juice 8 oz. hot water Rinse serving glass with Mezcal. Stir in the remaining ingredients to mix.

Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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Readers Pick the Most Influential Restaurant Executives in the Country Every year, Nation’s Restaurant News editors select industry executives for The Power List. This year they asked their readers to tell them who they thought is leading well in the restaurant industry. They received over 500 responses of executives, operators, chefs and more, from restaurants, vendors and firms across the country. Included in the list was IMI’s own Brandon Wise, VP of Beverage, Sage Hospitality Group. Brandon oversees the development of awardwinning beverage programs and the training of all bar teams. Brandon has opened more than 20 bars, restaurants and cafés with the company. He also has an impressive roster of accolades, just a few of which include being named to Wine Enthusiast’s “40 Under 40” list and the recipient of Cheers Magazine’s “Raising the Bar” Award, as well as seeing his work featured in publications such as Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetit, Esquire, Saveur, Tasting Table, Nation’s Restaurant News, NPR, Imbibe and many others. The concepts created by his team have also won numerous awards for their exceptional creativeness, design and menus. We congratulate Brandon on another great achievement! 26

IMI’s own Brandon Wise VP of Beverage Sage Hospitality Group


Fall 2019 • itmmag.com

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TAG Global Spirits Awards Taking Submissions Beginning April 30, 2021

Las Vegas, Nev. (March 19, 2021) – The inaugural TAG Global Spirits Awards, created by world renowned mixologist, Tony Abou-Ganim, U.S. industry veteran, David Grapshi, and American ambassador of Mexico’s National Chamber for the Tequila Industry, Julio Bermejo, has announced that it will begin accepting product submissions on April 30, 2021, at 7 a.m. PT, and will close on September 1 at 11 p.m. PT. Spirit companies looking to take part in this inaugural, world-class event, will be offered a 10% discount for all early entries received before May 30. All entries can be created by visiting the TAG Global Spirits Awards website here. The TAG Global Spirits Awards will take place October 2728

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30, 2021 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. TAG Global Spirits Awards has partnered with Steelite International, a world leading manufacturer and supplier of award-winning tabletop and buffet solutions for the hospitality industry to create the Ultimate Universal Spirits Glass, developed specifically for this competition. Abou-Ganim and Steelite worked together with RONA, one of the most renowned crystalline glassware manufacturers in the world, to develop and design the ultimate glass for serving all spirits— from whiskey, brandy, and rum to vodka, tequila, and mezcal—showcasing the spirit exactly as the manufacturer intended it to be tasted.


Click here for a video of the glassware production process presented by RONA 5 Star Glass. “When David, Julio and I designed this glass we considered each aspect that affects how a spirit presents itself from bowl opening to diameter and height. We also considered the foot and stem of the glass to ensure ease of use and overall comfort in the hand,” AbouGanim said. “The glass that Steellite and Rona created is the best universal tasting glass I’ve ever seen in my decades of tasting spirits and judging events and we couldn’t be happier with the results.” The four-day experience will include the most comprehensive global spirits competition in the world, judged by an array of experts from four continents who will crown the best-in-class Grand Finale award winners.

In addition to the category judging rounds, the TAG Global Spirits Awards will also feature consumer enthusiast educational events in various spirit categories that will be led by industry experts in a socially informative setting over world class food and cocktails. Each of these ticketed events will offer limited participation with VIP tickets going on sale in late May 2021, ahead of general ticket sales which will be available in late June. Additional information will be released at a later date and also updated via social media and online. The TAG Global Spirits Awards will culminate with a Pink Tie Gala on October 30, where the Grand Finale award winners will be featured, along with other brand participants, amidst a celebratory evening featuring food, cocktails and live entertainment. Proceeds from the Pink Tie Gala will benefit the Helen David Relief Fund, which honors the memory of Tony’s cousin Helen, a beloved bar owner and community leader in Port Huron, Michigan, who beat breast cancer twice in her lifetime. In her name, the HDRF assists those in the bar industry who are fighting breast cancer, and other forms of cancer, with the same dignity and courage that Helen exemplified throughout her battle and life as a pioneer business owner in the bar industry. For additional information, sponsorship opportunities and to stay updated on all TAG Global Spirits Awards news, visit www.TAGSpiritsAwards.com and follow along on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn @TAGSpiritsAwards. For questions about entries, please email info@ TAGSpiritsAwards.com. MEDIA CONTACT

Allied Global Marketing

Ken Langdon - klangdon@alliedglobalmarketing.com Sarah Martinez - smartinez@alliedglobalmarketing.com

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JOSE CUERVO® TEQUILA. 40% ALC./VOL. (80 PROOF). TRADEMARKS OWNED BY TEQUILA CUERVO LA ROJEÑA, S.A. DE C.V. ©2019 PROXIMO, JERSEY CITY, NJ. PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY.

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PARTNER WITH A LEADER The largest custom beverage program management agency in the hospitality channel • Developer of creativity meets technology tools that drive beverage sales, margin, and operational excellence • Proven programming excellence across all hospitality channels and industry acclaim for ethics, financial transparency, and legal compliance • A Total Team approach to Building Better Beverage Business™ for our Clients and Investing Brands for 30 years

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James Thomas Flaherty April 18, 1937 – January 2, 2021

James Thomas Flaherty, lovingly called “Big Jim” by all, passed away from pneumonia in the early morning hours of January 2, 2021. Jim began his distinguished 41-year career in the beverage alcohol industry at the Schlitz Brewing Company in 1961 out of Waukegan, Illinois. He started as a Merchandising Manager and held the following positions: District Manager (WI), National Sales Promotion Project Manager (WI), National Sales Promotion Manager (WI), Regional Advertising Manager (CA), and V.P. Regional Advertising Manager (KS). Jim’s creativity and experience were highly admired and in 1973, the President of Jules Berman, the sole importer of Kahlúa, called and offered Jim the position of National Advertising Manager. He would be responsible for all national advertising and merchandising activities for the company’s Kahlúa coffee

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liqueur, Arandas Tequila, Grand Award Canadian Whiskey and Mistala Rosé Wine. “Flaherty brings us valuable marketing experience, primarily gained during the past 12 years with a major brewer, in the fields of advertising, merchandising and sales both on the West Coast and in the Mid-West …” – President of Jules Berman (Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Monday, July 30, 1973) Jim was instrumental in the success of Kahlúa from a brand marketing and sales perspective. He continued his career under the umbrella of Maidstone Wine & Spirits and held positions as Director of Marketing and Brand Development, National Sales Manager of Kahlúa and Vice President. Jim was loyal to the core and remained an important asset to Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine (formerly Hiram Walker). He was appointed Senior Vice President, Director of the Business Development Group and SVP Director of Corporate National Accounts. He is most widely known for planting “Corporate On-Premise National Accounts” on the beverage alcohol industry map and leading the most successful and talented teams in the industry. They were responsible for a large portfolio of brands including Maker’s Mark, Canadian Club, Kahlúa, Courvoisier, Sauza, and more. Their team mission simply stated: “To be recognized by customers and distributors as the most prolific, consumerfocused brand and profit-building team in the industry. Our business is based on relationships. The corporate accounts sales team cultivates long-term, strategic partnerships with accounts, working closely in helping them design and implement programs that meet the mutual needs of both the chains and Allied Domecq.” – Jim Flaherty (article by Elizabeth Sterling) It is a mission that remains within National Accounts to this day. Jim’s impact and influence can be found spread throughout the industry, from the success of the professionals who have gone on to work for suppliers like Pernod Ricard USA, Beam


Jim with his wife of 60 years, Joanna Flaherty.

Global Spirits & Wine, and The Patrón Spirits Company; and across independents, buyers and third-party agencies. “He was one of my first mentors in the business, working on the Kahlúa brand (back in 1988) and was instrumental in bringing IMI to Marriott International to help develop the “Gold Standard Brands” beverage program, which was the first of its kind for the on-premise. Jim was sometimes referred to as the “Godfather of National Accounts.” – Don Billings, IMI Agency Jim retired in 2002 but continued to consult with his own company, Flaherty Beverage, and remained on the Millennium Advisory Board. Over the years, Jim was honored with many awards and accolades, which included receiving the first Hospitality ICON Award in 2009, given by Patrick Henry Creative Promotions. “Jim is a dear friend and I have tremendous respect for him. It’s a true testament to his talent and influence that some of the best people in

the beverage hospitality industry today are the ones that Jim personally hired and trained.” – Patrick Henry, PHCP 2009 (ICON Awards) Those who know Big Jim love and admire him. They describe him as humble, honest, caring, kind, fair, fun, generous, a mentor, a role model, a solid guy, soft but tough and having a big heart. He led by example at work and home. He was a quiet man but larger than life. His warm and magnetic manner gathered a multitude of friends throughout his career and retirement, who always remained in contact. In the last six years during his illness when he was unable to walk alone, drive, travel or play golf, he would say, “I miss you. When I get better, let’s get together. I’m going to come see you.” He really meant that; his thoughts never wavered. Prior to Jim’s illness, he loved to golf, travel, volunteer with the Disaster Response Team in Westlake Village, Los Angeles County, and watch his favorite sports teams – Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He deeply loved his family and was a devoted husband, father and adoring grandfather to his twin grandchildren. “A tough Irish kid with a huge heart from the steel mills of northern Indiana, he never forgot where he was from. He was humble and always treated his people great. That’s why everyone wanted to work for him. I am truly blessed to have been included in that group.” – Gregg Walker, President of Beverage Management Jim is survived by his devoted wife of 60 years, Joanna (née Plain) Flaherty of Westlake Village; children, James Flaherty, Lori (née Flaherty) Vance and her husband Victor Vance, and Erin Flaherty and her fiancé Cory Leibin; grandchildren, Vanessa Vance and Dylan Vance; sister, Patricia (née Flaherty) Cox and her husband Charles Cox.

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I loved Jim Flaherty. When we created the Gold Standard Beverage Program at Marriott, we were attempting to do something that had not been done before. For this program to be successful, we had to have risk-takers and visionary partners that saw the importance and values of putting the greater good of the team first. And, we had to have trusting, collaborating relationships that were committed to doing what they said they would do. The Gold Standard Program remains a vitally important program of Marriott’s 28+ years later, due to leaders like Jim who truly poured the foundation. Jim always made you feel special and was a friend first and business partner second. His character was and is that of a proud family man, one who loved competition yet would always put others before himself. His infectious laugh, after hearing a great joke or good news, spread joy to those around him. When Jim gave you his word about something, you knew not to worry about whether it would be completed. The 36

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answer was yes, which was always a testament to his character. Jim was a strong man that never took himself too seriously and was not afraid to put on a silly costume in Aruba or shirtless denim overalls in Hawaii, or let my wife wrap her arms around his belly on a jet ski, almost flipping off when hitting a big wave in Cancun. No matter where the meeting destination was, he seemed to always let you win at golf for some reason, too. Jim loved so well. He loved his family. He loved his teams. He loved his brands. He loved his accounts. He loved his industry. He loved his Lakers and he loved his home state of Indiana. I wish I could tell you this to your face, Jim, because writing it and not being able to see your face or hear you on the other end of the phone is truly heartbreaking. I loved Jim Flaherty. Our brands were Premium, but YOU, my friend, were TOP Shelf! I hope you knew this — I believe you did. With all my love and sincerest condolences, Rob Gillette Renaissance Austin Hotel


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Sadly, Jim Flaherty passed away over the holidays. He was 83 years young and an ICON of our industry. I knew Big Jim and worked with Jim starting in 1986 when he was National Sales Manager for Kahlúa at Maidstone Wine & Spirits, and then at Allied Lyons. Kahlúa was my first account project with Jim for the precursor of IMI Agency, which didn’t come into being for another three years. I picked up on Jim’s career while he was at Maidstone Wine & Spirits and followed him through Hiram Walker, Allied Lyons and Allied Domecq, as each was acquired by the other. My work with Jim and the story ends in 2005, with Beam Global and Pernod-Ricard picking up the majority of Allied Domecq brands as the major beverage companies evolved. Jim retired but still had things he wanted to accomplish and started his own company, Flaherty Beverage. He was my first mentor in the business and was instrumental in developing our company, IMI. I got to work on several brand account projects — not only Kahlúa but also Courvoisier, Cutty Sark, Laphroig, Maker’s Mark, Canadian Club, Sauza, Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Drambuie, which took me all over the world and created the jumping-off point for me and IMI to create a whole other set of adventures to this day. Jim was instrumental in bringing IMI to Marriott International to help develop the “Gold Standard Brands” beverage program, which was the first of its kind for the on-premise. And many people referred to Jim as the “Godfather of National Accounts.” Jim Flaherty worked in the hospitality beverage industry for 41 years and was with Allied Domecq for 35 of those years. His titles ranged from National Sales Manager for Kahlúa and Director of Business Development for Allied Domecq, to Senior Vice President & National Sales for Allied Domecq. Jim’s impact and influence can be found throughout the industry from the success of people who have gone on to work for The Patrón Spirits Company, Beam Global Spirits and Wine, and Pernod Ricard USA to independent suppliers, buyers and agencies such IMI Agency, PHCP, Marketeam and BMO, as well as many more. Thank you, Jim, for the rich experiences, knowledge and skills you helped foster in so many people in the on-premise. With that, I’d like to just let some of the many other people he touched during his career share their personal experiences. Don Billings, Founding Partner IMI Agency and Publisher of in the Mix Media

Big Jim’s retirement party.

Receiving an award for Courvoisier sales award.


Working in the industry is a love learned by observing my dad in his life and career. Strong but embracing, leading but teaching by example, delegating but working alongside of his team – that was part of his charm. Revered yet humble, he formed his relationships with respect, honesty and unconditional affection. He was a magnet – people were drawn to him, loved and respected him, and wanted to perform. ‘Relationships first, business will follow’ was his mantra. I saw how he made his team a loyal family; they worked hard, yet laughed, loved and lived the business. My career in the beverage alcohol industry was a natural progression of admiration for my dad, a businessman, an icon. I am grateful. Erin Flaherty Senior NAM – On Premise American Beverage Marketers RIGHT: Jim pictured with his daughter, Erin Flaherty, who is Senior National Account Manager On-Premise for American Beverage Marketers.

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you were on Big Jim’s “ When team, you became part of his

extended family, and he treated you as such. He was incredibly loyal to his team members and gave us his 100 percent trust to do the right thing.” – Chuck Summers

Flaherty was a one of a kind. “ Jim He was an incredible leader but

also a friend. From the moment I started working for him, I felt like family. He was incredibly kind and gentle but had an amazing vision of what ‘National Accounts’ should be. He was a pioneer in this channel. I look back at my career and know that the success I have had was a tribute to Jim and my entire Allied Domecq family. Joni, Jim, Lori and Erin should be incredibly proud of him. He was a true legend.” – Donna Frederick

Jim Flaherty was larger “ Big than life. The best boss, mentor, coach and friend anyone could ask for. I feel so lucky for all the great memories. He will be missed terribly but celebrated every day!” – Mike O’Connell

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will be forever grateful for Jim and “ We his leadership and support of our work. He mentored us to become the National Account managers that we are today.” – Nora Lee Smith, Delicato Family Wines National Accounts Manager

are many things that defined Jim “ There Flaherty – his leadership, his energy, his

capacity to celebrate and enjoy life. But I think the defining thing about Jim was the gracious way he treated others.” – Gregg Walker, Beverage Management Outsourcing

gentleman! Jim made everyone “ True feel like they were important, more

than a friend and part of the family. Our industry lost a true icon and to everyone who knew him, we all lost a best friend.” – John J. Maggio, Strategic Accounts Director On-Premise, Patrón Spirits

I started my career with NCB, “ When I was young and green. Jim took me

under his wing and helped me navigate the world of beverage. His advice was instrumental in my career. He was a trusted friend, mentor, leader and one of the industry’s best ambassadors. He was a beacon.” – Jen Robinson, CEO/Duchess, The Pineapple Group, LLC


Allied Domecq on-premise team.

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Maidstone & Kahlúa Group

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Jim with Dennis Keer

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Bringing the Food & Beverage Industry Online: How Venues are Embracing IoT-Connected Solutions

We live in an increasingly connected world. From Internet of Things (IoT) devices in our homes to connected Point of Sale (POS) platforms in retail, smart technology is helping people and businesses become more efficient. Sestra Systems, based in Sterling, Virginia, has partnered with IMI Agency to bring the latest in software-forward, connected solutions to the food and beverage service industry. The company’s cloud-based platform provides unprecedented control over access and dispensing, insights into behavior and trends, and integrations with a host of other systems. Sestra addresses the entire venue – whether large or small, self-serve or behind the bar – on one common platform. TapWise™ from Sestra turns any draft system into a connected solution with programmed portion control, integrations with other systems, and real-time analytics and alerts. WHY CONNECTED SOLUTIONS ARE TAKING HOLD To Address the Venue Holistically There is a variety of products emerging in the market that collect information but oftentimes they have a narrow application, and the data remains siloed. Sestra’s solution dispenses any product from a variety of containers and dispensers - from wine in kegs and liquor in bottles to hot coffee in urns. Their platform is different in the way it provides a common hub for information from systems throughout the venue to create a full picture of service and operations. Multi-stream analysis in the end-to-end system ensures the perfect dispensing conditions and control. To Increase Revenue and Profits Food & beverage services often suffer from loss, both on the inventory and sales side. According to Sestra, a single ounce of overpour on a glass of wine loses a venue 20 percent of revenue on that bottle and a couple of ounces of overpour on a glass of beer can cost thousands of dollars per year. Replacing manual practices with IoT-connected solutions eliminates multiple forms of loss from theft to overpouring.

Sestra’s TapWise™ solution uses a patented Pour Control System to electronically control every aspect of dispensing. Technology throughout the line protects quality while hands-free dispensing increases speed of service and real-time alerts prevent costly interruptions. Venues can increase their yield, selling more while purchasing less inventory To Enhance the Guest Experience By dispensing virtually hands-free, Sestra frees up servers to concentrate on their guests. They can engage and create a memorable experience. Faster service also helps venues to better manage queues. Installing Sestra’s Smart Dispensing™ solution also allows venues to link food and beverage dispensing directly to tailored apps, loyalty programs, promotions, and more, creating a unified experience for guests. And for those properties without full-service bars, “Sestra Mobile Bars create an experience where staff can engage guests for complimentary or retail service around the clock,” according to Sestra’s COO, Kim AuBuchon. Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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To Streamline Operations Likely the most important feature for revenue managers is Sestra’s cloud-based analytics engine, which can report on pours, keg changes and other important beverage data. Sestra’s Smart Dispensing™ platform creates a centralized hub and allows users to combine streams of data to analyze and automate controls over dispensing, access, ordering, and more. Another important feature is Sestra’s Remote Station Manager (RSM), which makes it easy to lock and unlock taps from anywhere using a mobile phone. “For example, it’s easy to program 8-oz. cold-brew coffee to begin flowing for morning lobby service, while the beer and wine taps stay locked until happy hour,” AuBuchon said. “Preventing unauthorized access to taps, especially in high-traffic spaces, adds needed security.” BRINGING TECHNOLOGY INTO FOOD & BEVERAGE DISPENSING Future-proof Solutions “We are a software-driven company focused on solving problems in food and beverage dispensing that traditional hardware companies can’t address,” explained Sestra’s CEO, Lev Volftsun. Sestra’s solution is the most versatile in the industry. They are constantly working on additions and improvements

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to the TapWise™ platform. “Last year, we launched Sestra’s Next Gen, which upgrades and expands our solution with more controls, insights, and integrations while introducing touchless dispensing and expanding into new dispensing applications,” said AuBuchon. “We’ve also entered into key third-party partnerships to expand our ecosystem. We’re looking forward to continuing our innovative spirit this year.” Dispensing as a Service Quality food and beverage service starts long before the product is dispensed. Sestra’s team of industry experts also offers program evaluations, design consultations, training certifications, and ROI evaluations. Once a venue decides that TapWise™ is the right solution for its beverage needs, AuBuchon said that Sestra “works closely with them from start to finish to create the best solution and to deliver value long after the taps go live.” She also noted that there is a dedicated support team customers can reach out to. “We build our product through conversation with clients to solve the real problems they’re facing,” AuBuchon said. “And the effectiveness of that shows in the results they see. For example, at the W hotel in Washington, DC, with 151 taps serving a variety of beverages in the recently renovated property, Garth Welsh, Director of Beverage and Food for the hotel, told us, ‘I love the fact that, at the push of a button, whichever bar you’re at, you’re going to get the exact same drink. Key people within my company come through, see the system, and are blown away by it.’”


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Natural, Additive-Free Wine Grows Amid Consumer Focus on Clean Ingredients By Samantha Des Jardins

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Consumers demanding clean ingredients and fewer additives are knocking on the wine industry’s door The trend of natural wine is gaining mass appeal, and there’s perhaps no better time for the burgeoning trend to spark. Consumers have been showing a preference for “natural” products for years, from meat to skincare. They’ve also shown a willingness to pay more for it. This year, they are more focused than ever on healthy food and drink after being far less active and indulging in comfort food, amid the pandemic stressors of the last year. As Americans are more focused on healthy, natural foods that will help shed the “quarantine 15” or “COVID-19 pounds,” it fits that, at the same time, public awareness and interest in natural wine is increasing. This year at least, it’s less about balancing indulgence with a few healthy meals and more about making everything we indulge in healthier itself. And that, for many people, includes wine. As these trends converge, a Hollywood boost has helped the natural wine industry move forward even faster. Celebrities including Cameron Diaz have jumped on board after expressing concerns about wine additives and preservatives, leading Diaz to create her own “clean” wine label, Avaline. There are many who say the move toward clean or all-natural wine is merely a marketing effort that plays into Americans’ desire to eat fewer preservatives and more food and drinks closer to their natural source. Winemakers are not required to disclose every ingredient as a food maker is, and this can lead to some confusion about what may be lingering in an ordinary glass of wine that many consumers are unaware of. Further, there is no government standard definition of what “natural” means. And consumers’ interpretation can vary widely, with “natural” often being associated with “organic” or other words that have higher standards for labeling. Restaurateurs that carry this type of wine refer to it as “unadulterated” or “naked.” The muddiness of this term is a challenge for both industry players and consumers. Many are unaware that some wines on the market today would already fit the standards set forth by the new “clean” or “all-natural” winemakers; they’re just not advertised as such. But however they define it, consumers are eager to try it and many already have. Fifty-nine percent of consumers say they’ve heard of all-natural wine, according to a recent Datassential survey, while

73 percent of the public show an interest in trying it. That figure goes up when talking specifically to wine lovers — 83 percent of oenophiles say they’re interested in trying all-natural wine. The trend is also drawing interest from beer and spirits lovers. All-natural wine is defined as one made from grapes that are handpicked and are organic, sustainable or biodynamic, fermented with no added yeast or additives, and have little or no added sulfites. Sulfites are a food preservative widely used in winemaking and they’re associated with a number of side effects including headaches. Biodynamic wines are produced without synthetic chemicals or common manipulations like acidity adjustments or the addition of yeast. Biodynamic wines have less consumer awareness but are still a segment of the industry that’s poised to grow. Fifty-two percent of consumers say they’re interested in trying it, compared with 60 percent of wine lovers, Datassential said. And despite having less consumer awareness than natural wines, biodynamic wines are easier for a consumer to pick out because they have a universal global definition. The grapes are grown using organic practices, but the standard permits the wines to have more sulfites than the U.S. standard to be labeled organic. Both categories have strong prospects for growth considering the success of “clean” ingredients on menus in recent years. The term “all-natural” now appears on 99 percent of U.S. menus and has seen an 11 percent growth rate in the last four years. It’s no wonder that consumers, so hyper-focused on natural food, would turn that attention to what they imbibe. The focus on all-natural and biodynamic wine could also get a tailwind later this year and into 2022, as Americans begin to feel more comfortable holding large celebrations like birthday parties and weddings, as the COVID-19 vaccine is more readily available. Those occasions are often celebrated with alcoholic beverages for those who drink, and natural wine should be a big part of that for those looking to feel less guilt with that glass of wine. Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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And as the restaurant industry recovers, diners — especially younger generations — will be looking for new and innovative dishes and drinks as they return to restaurants in larger numbers. Natural wine could be an ideal fit for those daring to try something new, but wanting to keep a focus on versions of their favorite things they perceive as healthier. It’s clearly a good time to be a natural wine producer, but it’s also a moment of opportunity for traditional wine sellers and growers to improve their marketing communication with the public. Because winemakers aren’t able to show a product clear of additives and preservatives as starkly as a food maker could, it’s important to find a way to make consumers feel at ease by adding more details on how the wine is produced, either on the label, through a direct-to-consumer website, or improved marketing through restaurants and other third-party sellers. Restaurant operators may consider also adding a little “education” when adding a natural or biodynamic wine to the menu. Introducing them as specials is a start, as is incorporating them into wine flights when more dine-in options are available, giving consumers an opportunity to sample different varieties in a smaller portion before selecting one they like. Because “natural”

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wine can mean different things to different people and “biodynamic” has less market presence and understanding, it will be critical for restauranteurs to also include an explanation of the wine’s origin, an explanation of these new terms and any related special instructions. Consider this description and instruction from Workshop Kitchen & Bar in Palm Springs, California, which offered a three-pack of Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc wines from the Beaujolais region of France: The restaurant noted in the pack’s description that the region from which the three wines are derived “has been at the forefront of the natural wine production and biodynamic movements” yet also offers specific details on how best to store the wine, noting the wines “hold best at colder temperatures (57 degrees or lower) due to the lack of preservatives or added sulfur.” That’s an important piece of the puzzle for consumers used to keeping their reds at room temperature. Those details will be key in natural and biodynamic wines’ transition from niche to mass appeal. Natural wine already has a steady awareness among the trendy bar set, but it’s on the cusp of a big growth opportunity if operators and sellers ensure that consumers can detect easily the difference between a natural wine — or whatever distinction is used — and their favorite “conventional” bottle.


Hello, Gorgeous

monin.com Interested in a free sample? Email support@monin.com and reference this In The Mix ad.

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175 Years of Tradition and Excellence Count Niccolò Branca, (left), and Edoardo (right) Edoardo Branca is a sixth-generation family member and is the Managing Director of Branca USA. Prior to taking on this role, Edoardo managed the exports of Fratelli Branca portfolio to many other countries including Japan, Australia, China, Albania, Africa and England. Fratelli Branca and its Milan-based distillery were founded in 1845 by Edoardo’s ancestor, Bernardino Branca, who produced a bitter herbal liqueur using a secret formula that has remained such to this day. As the Managing Director of the company, Edoardo reports to his father, Count Niccolò Branca, who is the main shareholder and Chairman of the Board, and more importantly, the sole keeper of the secret recipe for Fernet-Branca, which is passed down from father to son in the family.

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1. Tell us some interesting facts about the 175year history of Fernet-Branca and Antica Formula. Edoardo Branca: Fernet-Branca was created in 1845 as a medicine during an epidemic of cholera. There is a debate on the origin of the name “Fernet.” It actually depends on who you speak with in the company. The marketing team will tell you that it was a combination of Bernardino Branca, the herbalist, and Mr. Fernet, a Swedish chemist, and together they invented the formula. If you speak with the workers that make the Fernet instead, they will tell you that they invented it, because when you mix the aloe ferox in a big pan, you stir it with a big iron shovel. To see when the aloe ferox was ready, the iron shovel had to be very shiny and clean, and “fer net” in the Milanese dialect is “clean iron.” As it is for today, we do not have yet an answer on which is the true story behind the name.


Fernet-Branca grew in popularity throughout Italy and then Europe, and then the world. It’s been sold in the U.S. since the Civil War, and we even continued to sell during Prohibition as a medicine It really took off in San Francisco in the late 20th century and became the “bartender’s handshake,” a way of industry people greeting each other at their different bars. There are 27 herbs and spices from four different continents in it, so Fernet-Branca really is a sip of the world in a glass. Antica Formula is based off the original recipe for Vermouth from Carpano that Antonio Benedetti Carpano created in 1788. Antonio was an herbalist who combined herbs, spices and Muscatel wine, and created the first commercially sold Vermouth. He invented the category, taking Vermouth from a home remedy to a product sold in bars and shops. His store was located just opposite the Royal Palace in Turin, and so he sent a crate of his new product to King Vitorio Amedeo III. The king loved the Vermouth so much it became the drink of the royal household. Antica Formula is based off that original recipe of Antonio Benedetto Carpano’s. We found notes in his papers when Fratelli Branca merged with Carpano in the late 1990s, so we used our expertise

in blending herbs and botanicals to recreate that fantastic original recipe. Thus, Antica Formula was born. 2. You run the Fratelli Branca business in America. Can you tell us about forming Branca USA and why you chose to create the company two years ago? EB: I believe a lot in the U.S. market, and Fratelli Branca has been operating in the U.S. for such a long time; we had a distillery in Tribeca that was opened after the Prohibition. We chose to create Branca USA two years ago to take a more active role and focus on building the Branca portfolio in the U.S. market. Branca USA also meant that we could bring in great innovations like Carpano Botanic Bitter and Stravecchio Branca Brandy. The U.S. is a fantastic market and we have a huge opportunity to grow within it. 3. Americans seem to be embracing the European culture of enjoying outstanding amari, bitters and Vermouths more and more. Explain the uniqueness of your products to our readers.

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EB: American consumers are becoming more and more sophisticated both in their flavor profiles and their cocktails. Consumers are more open to more bitter and less sweet drinks and our portfolio is perfect for that, our amari and our Vermouths. Our products are very special. We have three brands that literally invented their categories. Fernet-Branca created the category of Fernets, Carpano invented the Vermouth category and Caffe Borghetti created espresso liquor. The other really important thing to know is that we make products, not ingredients. All our amari and Vermouths are delicious on their own; they don’t need to be mixed with anything else to be a great drink. That means that we are also fantastic in cocktails because the quality of our brands really shines through. 4. You recently launched a new product, Carpano Botanic Bitter. Can you tell us about it and ways to enjoy it? EB: We are very excited about Carpano Botanic Bitter. We wanted to create a product that combined our 230 years of passion for quality and blending, with the things that consumers are looking for like premiumization, holistic ingredients and lower sugar. We wanted to give consumers an option to upgrade their cocktails, just as we did with Antica Formula with Vermouth. The result was Carpano Botanic Bitter. With our experience in botanicals and blending, both on the Branca and Carpano sides, we blended together 10 botanicals to create an ultrapremium product with 40 percent less sugar than the average bitter. Carpano Botanic Bitter is fantastic on its own over ice, or with club soda and a slice of orange. We also highly recommend it in a Negroni or Americano, or in a tiki cocktail like a Junglebird. 5. Hanky Panky is a fun cocktail with Fernet-Branca. What’s in it? EB: The Hanky Panky is a fantastic cocktail created at the turn of the last century in London at the Savoy Hotel. It’s 1 ½ ounces of Gin, 1 ½ ounces of Antica Formula Vermouth and ¼ ounce of Fernet-Branca. One of my favorite things about this cocktail is it was created by a female bartender, Ada Coleman, who was a trailblazer ahead of her time. It’s a variation on a sweet martini — Gin and Sweet Vermouth — and Ada added her secret ingredient, Fernet-Branca, to it. It goes to show you that Fernet-Branca has been the secret weapon of bartenders in cocktails for over a hundred years! 6. Finally, do you know the whole formula for FernetBranca?

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EB: Not yet. No one but my father knows the full recipe, but I’ll start learning it soon. in the Mix Magazine


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Allied Domecq Spirits National Account Team

An Interview with Donna Frederick A National Account Salesperson Legend

I am fortunate to be sitting with Donna Frederick, truly one of the sales stars in the national accounts onpremise channel and a longtime friend of IMI Agency and in the Mix magazine. As Donna retired at the end of 2020 after a successful and rewarding 45year career in beverage alcohol, I had to take a quick walk with her down memory lane. — Celeste Dinos

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Celeste Dinos: Tell us about your career journey. How did you get your start in the alcohol beverage industry? Donna Frederick: I always considered myself the luckiest person in this world. The opportunities I have had in this industry — I mean, no one could have ever predicted how crazy or wonderful this journey would have been. It has been amazing. I cannot tell you how thankful I am. For me, it began in the mid-seventies when I started bartending in Connecticut. After a while, I was looking to do something


different and went to work for a temp agency. The first assignment they put me on was for the liquor distributor, Brescome (now Brescome Barton), working in the office. After being there for about six months I decided I wanted to try sales. At that time, there were no women salespeople in Connecticut (in the liquor industry). So, after a lot of persistence on my end, they finally decided to let me give it a go. Ten years later I was still at it and successful, doing quite well. From there I was fortunate to get hired at Allied Domecq. I was at Allied Domecq for 24 years until the company sold their brands to Pernod Ricard and Jim Beam. After that, I could not go to work at Pernod Ricard or Beam, as going to work for one of them would have stood in the way of my severance package with Allied Domecq. So, I went to work with Remy Cointreau. I worked at Remy Cointreau for a year when Beam contacted me, and by that time I was free to work anywhere. We made a deal, and I spent the rest of my career, 15 years, with Beam Suntory.

National Accounts. Everything was new. It was like forging a new path. I learned a lot, and I ended up working with people who to this day I consider family. Jim Flaherty was a big part of that, and it was by far the greatest team that I ever worked with. I have worked with some great teams, but there was a synergy amongst our group that is hard to describe. It was like lightning in a bottle. They are still my best friends today. I talk to them regularly. We have not worked together in 20 years and yet we are still as close as we ever were. When we see each other, we get together and laugh and remember how it was just magic. I could do a whole interview on my time with Allied Domecq, the time and the stories and experiences over the years. It really was impactful to me, and then when Jim left Allied Domecq, Mike Ginley came in to run National Accounts and we continued on and our team attitude was always “just do it.”

CD: Who have been your mentors along your journey? DF: I have so many mentors, but my biggest mentor along the way was Jim Flaherty, who unfortunately passed away this year. Jim was kind of the “Godfather” of the National Account on-premise industry, and I was so fortunate to have worked for him. He was an incredible man and had such a great vision. Under Jim was Michele Hlavay, who left the industry about 20 years ago, but she was also an incredibly impactful person in my career, especially going into National Account sales. Michele called on Marriott International, and I learned a lot from her. When she left the company, Marriott ended up becoming my account, which truly put my career on the map. What is funny is that some of my mentors have also been some of my biggest competitors. I would be remiss if I did not say that Paul Laconte (previously with Diageo) was one of my mentors even though we were competitors. I have known Paul since the beginning of my career in 1975 and reconnected with him when I came into National Accounts. The same with John Niekrash (previously with Proximo), so when I say mentors, they were great examples to follow and individuals who I thought were doing a great job and had good reputations in the industry. CD: What was the highlight of your career? DF: The highlight of my career, and not being disrespectful to any other companies I worked for, were the years I was with Allied Domecq. It was the beginning of On-Premise

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One of the things I remember the most about our team was that we always thought we were not as good as other companies in National Accounts. Then after Allied Domecq shut down, we realized we were so far ahead of ourselves and had no idea how far ahead we were in the industry. In hindsight, at the time I did not necessarily know what an incredible team we were on the business side of it. CD: I was very fortunate to get to work with your team before Allied Domecq sold their brands, and you are right, Donna, you all had something very special and unique as a whole group. DF: (Laughing) Yes, I think anybody who saw us knew it and to this day still sees it. So yeah, it was incredible. That is why I call it lightning in a bottle. It was magic. I cannot describe the friendships that came out of that time. CD: Try. Tell me something special about each person on the team. DF: Oh, my goodness, where do I start? Linda Barnhart,

probably the most buttoned up and funniest woman I know. Michael O’Connell is the best at resolving confrontations and probably the hardest working and most organized. John Maggio is by far the most charming and probably one of the better salespeople. Larry Guerra is one of the best people I have ever met at delegating. Those are the initial teammates that come to mind. CD: I know many people who like to live vicariously through you and your travel lifestyle. How have you managed to experience so many different countries? DF: Funny thing is, I lost count of how many, but when I think back, I have visited more than 25 countries. I was just fortunate to be with some great companies and work with some of the best partners and clients in the industry. Whether it was Marriott or Hilton or Loews or Columbia Sussex — all have hotels in incredible parts of the world and we had meetings in those places. I have also represented brands that have some fantastic educational stories and locations, whether it is in Cognac, France or in Scotland or Ireland or Russia or Japan. I have been really, really blessed.

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In Russia with Stoli Master Distiller

CD: Which trips were some of your most memorable or your favorite? DF: Trying to pick a favorite is too hard. Most memorable, I probably have six. My first one is Russia. Mostly because it was so not what anyone expected it to be. There were so many funny stories that came out of that trip, from a formal, white-glove dinner where they presented fish sticks under sterling silver domes, to eating bad caviar and drinking cheap Vodka straight. Australia is another one. Climbing to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge will always be unforgettable. I could go on and on, but what made each of these trips so memorable were the people traveling with me. It did not matter which country, it was who was with me that made the trip, and the reasons why I had the most incredible experiences in my life. I sit here and I think, “I am the luckiest woman on the planet.” Truly. And you have gone on a lot of these trip with me. I mean, how lucky are we? CD: I remember being in Sweden and our group trying to shoot Jeremy Dodson out of an old military cannon, and one of my favorite pictures of you is from that same trip. We were out in the countryside, with the people from

Climbing Sydney Harbor Bridge in Sydney, Australia

ABSOLUT Vodka, and we were in this little cottage, all hands-on preparing dinner, and I think Jeremy or Paul Laconte dubbed the picture of you in a blue apron, “Mary Poppins.” Do you remember which photo I am referring to? DF: Yes, I do. They did name that picture Mary Poppins. It was right after Paul threw his white sweater in the fireplace because someone had spilled red wine all over it. That was a fun time. CD: The best travelers are those who can “go with the flow,” as there are so many uncontrollable factors involved in travel. Tell us about some of your crazier experiences. DF: Well, going back to our trip to Russia, which was years in the making, it was not a direct flight from where I lived in Connecticut and the airlines ended up delaying multiple legs of my flight, so it took me two days to get there. Myself and two of the other hosts of the trip finally got there only to find out that in addition to the delays, the airline also lost my luggage; I had to wear a brown velour jumpsuit almost the entire trip. Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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Donna dubbed “Mary Poppins” in Sweden

Finally arriving in Russia

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Other experiences — I have been on many trips where I was with people, especially on Kentucky Bourbon trips, where I had to take care of them after a little too much imbibing, and I end up being a nursemaid. We have had a lot of experiences where attendees on an educational work trip show up and surprise everyone by bringing an uninvited +1. There was an attendee in Russia who showed up with her mother, and absolutely no one knew she was bringing her. There have been educational winery trips to California where someone shows up at the airport in San Francisco with their friend, so you kind of learn to go with the flow with that and try to make it all work out. CD: There was another trip we were on together in Barbados to visit the Malibu distillery. On the last day of the trip a hurricane was headed straight for the island. Do you remember that one? The government shut down the entire island. DF: Yes, and that was not the only hurricane experience we have been through together! We also experienced one on the island of Jamaica at The Ritz-Carlton, Montego Bay where we had a Marriott Gold Standard Challenge Conference. It was the final day and most of the attendees had already left the island, but everyone remaining had to evacuate their rooms, pool, wherever they were and go to the main conference area of the hotel. Terry Connaughton (with Guinness at the time) came walking down the hallway in a towel and about gave me a heart attack! It was a crazy experience, though I never remember being scared. We were all in it together. CD: Who would have thought working in the liquor industry you would end up with so much travel experience? DF: I know, and honestly, I would be remiss not saying how closely I have worked with IMI over the years. Most of these trips would not have happened without IMI and your entire staff. I could not have done it without some of the people on your team bringing all the details together. So, thank you for that. CD: Oh, thank you, Donna! It has been our pleasure and a joy. How many different spirit and wine brands have you represented over the years? DF: You know, Celeste, between distributors and the major suppliers that I worked with, all I can say is hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds.

Just take one category, like Vodka, for example. One week I was selling Smirnoff with the distributor, the next week I am selling ABSOLUT, the next it was Stoli with Allied Domecq. In my 45-year career I have sold most of the major premium brands at some point in time, but not all of them. CD: Which was your favorite brand? DF: Without a doubt, Maker’s Mark. Always has been, always will be. It is just my favorite funky, fun brand. It has a great story and history behind it and the family — the way they market, the way they sell, the way they treat people; it is just an incredible and truly authentic brand. The distillery tour is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lives. I could give the tour myself, I have been so many times. There are lots of other brands I will always love too, but Maker’s Mark is always the first one that comes to mind. It was definitely my favorite brand to sell. CD: What is your go-to happy hour cocktail? DF: Right now, a Paloma. CD: How do you make yours? DF: I make mine with Fever Tree Grapefruit Soda, Hornitos Reposado and a little rim of salt. Give me that and I am one happy girl. It is easy to drink, easy to make, unintimidating and refreshing. CD: It is a great cocktail for where you are now, on the beach in southern Florida. DF: Yes, that’s true. Perfect beach cocktail. CD: Now that you have retired, are there any individuals that you will miss? I know you mentioned missing some of your mentors. Are there any others? DF: Too many to mention, honestly. As you can imagine, through 45 years I have dealt with so many people who were influential to me whether they were with Marriott or Hilton or the distilleries or any of the coworkers I have had. Fortunately, I can say I have been able to keep in touch with a lot of the people I was close to. I am really surprised after retiring, even though it has only been a couple of months, how I still hear from a lot of people on a regular basis, and that means more to me than anything in the world. I now live in an area in south Florida where several of my old Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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competitors live, so I won’t be missing them very much, as I will get to see them all the time, but there are some people who have left the industry that I will miss. There are also some legends in the industry that I have been blessed to work with and to call on as my customers, from Stan Novack and Brian Yost to Rob Gillette and Matthew Von Ertfelda, who were all influential in my career. There is no way I can thank them enough for supporting me through the years. I am sure I am missing some other people, but those names came to mind, and I just wanted to make sure I recognized them. CD: Donna, you have always been highly regarded in the industry for your creativity, follow-through and dependability. I am sure with that has come with recognition along the way. What awards have you received? DF: Oh gosh, I think the most special one is the very first one I received in the late 1980s, Supplier of the Year for Pizzeria Uno. Back then, I did not know there was even such a thing as awards in the national account industry. This first award was the most impactful as it gave me

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confidence to think I could do this job and do it well. Over the years I have been fortunate to receive other awards. The ones that mean a lot to me are the Marriott beverage supplier awards I received (three in total) because there are so many partners in that program and it is so hard to standout because of all the great talent calling on Marriott. The beverage salespeople who call on the lodging channel are the best in the business. To stand out against any of those people, whether it’s the Deborah Huttons or the Kathleen Smiths or any of my fantastic counterparts, I am completely humbled to think that I won awards in their company. It’s extremely humbling. CD: I am sure every single one was very well deserved. What would you tell someone just starting out in the business? DF: Well, first and foremost is to enjoy this ride because it is a ride that you cannot prepare yourself for. It is totally different from what people usually think it is. Secondly, is to have integrity. That is the most important thing you can have. If you say you are going to do something, then do it. And lastly, listen to your customers. When I say listen,

Volunteering with CORE.


Donna at a Marriott Global Beverage Partner Conference in 2019.

don’t just listen to the big things. Sometimes it is the little things that make you stand out. Those were for me some of the things that helped make me successful, especially delivering on something that maybe someone else did not hear or did not think was important. CD: You have been a long-standing ambassador and advocate for the industry charity CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees). Thank you for that. What has volunteering for the organization meant to you? DF: I have loved every minute of it. The charity was started by some very good-hearted people who were sitting in a bar trying to find a way to give back to our industry. I told you how lucky I have been with all the things I have done in my career. I do not take that for granted. I would not have gotten to have this wonderful career if it were not for some of the people who were working in the restaurants, bars, stadiums and hotels at the local level, and sometimes at the local level they do not have the benefits and other things that you have working for larger corporations. Volunteering

for CORE has been an incredible opportunity to give back. I love giving back. I have been honored to actually meet three to four of the CORE award recipients; it was very heart warming and touching. I am honored to have even been in their company. CD: What are your plans for retirement? DF: I am busier now than I have ever been. I am golfing. I am doing some consulting. I have done some volunteer work. I take a lot of art classes. I sold my condo so I am in the process of moving, but honestly, life is wonderful. I have to say that it is the perfect time in my life. My career ended right when it was supposed to. I loved it all the way up to the very last minute, but it was time for me to move on and let someone new come in and enjoy this. And I am enjoying this down time. It has been wonderful and I have personally never been happier. CD: The other day I was thinking how hard it is going to be for Ken Ruff to fill your shoes (at Beam Suntory). Truly, they are unfillable. Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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Jim Beam Event with Montgomery Gentry

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DF: Well, the thing is, with Covid and all the changes that have been made since the pandemic hit, there is hardly anyone left in the industry who knows me. The industry changed in 2020 so much so, that my successor does not have to follow in my footsteps. It is not the same industry I left. Moving forward will be totally different in how salespeople call on customers. Especially in the hotel and stadium channels, which is where I specialized. The customers will mostly be new, with new styles, new ways of doing business. The sales industry is redefining itself. So, I do not think it is going to be hard to follow in my shoes. It is almost like starting a new job and starting from scratch. It may be tough for them at first, but also good. Celeste, when I sit here and try to recount each and every experience I have had, I cannot tell you how much I smile, how much I laugh, how I realize how lucky I am. I could go on for hours and hours. Thank you, as this interview has made me sit back and remember all the good times over again. We worked really hard but we played really hard too. Aspen Food & Wine Classic with Marriott and Zac Brown

At an IHG Partner Meeting with industry colleagues. Spring 2021 • itmmag.com

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Attending a Marriott Meeting in San Diego, CA

In Dublin, Ireland with Dan Hoffman.

Donna hosting customers in Las Vegas. 66

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