I started in the food and beverage industry as a young, easily distracted, and eager bar back at the college bars of Ames, Iowa. That’s when I was 19. The basic objective was to circumnavigate the local doors guys once I joined the crew. My ambitions were right where I wanted them, low and easily attainable. After four years attending Iowa State, I held a diploma in one hand and a compass that only pointed west in my other. I headed out to Colorado the summer after graduation where the Denver rent and lift tickets emptied my pockets, quickly. Marketing firms weren’t hiring someone with zero years of professional experience, so I walked to the closest bar down the street. I handed them an application, was interviewed on the spot, and was running food and bussing tables by the weekend. That was at Steuben’s Food Service in Uptown Denver. This is where the proverbially “bite of the industry” happened, and its teeth sank deep.
The service component came quickly, keep waters full and orders accurate. But where I found inspiration and passion was where I could get into a good discussion i.e. arguments. Such as “What makes a good cocktail?” Not wanting to lose the debate, I committed to studying the subject which included spirits seminars, certificates, travel to distilleries around the country and world, and eventually teaching cocktail classes of my own.
I was fortunate to take this new focus to multiple bars in the Secret Sauce Food & Beverage group and after close to 8 years with the team, I was ready to make the move back to the Midwest with my Minnesota born wife, Torrie, and two dogs, Jack and Poppy. We settled into a little home in the Armatage neighborhood of South Minneapolis which provided a short commute to my new work home, Jester Concepts and their staple programs, Parlour and Borough. My network continued to grow in the new Twin Cities market and struck up a friendship with former Jester beverage director, Jesse Held and he gave me the inside scoop for his plan for opening Earl Giles Distillery. I was interested from the start and became their Director of Restaurant Operations for their opening season. I am proud of the work I was able to lend to the team at Earl Giles and am ready to start my next stage with The Wine Company.
When the work is done, I’m walking the dogs with my wife, poorly playing ukulele songs for my son, and enjoying the Minnesota countryside.