Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getting To Know The Owners

JASON: I have been in the restaurant industry since I was 15, starting as a busser at an Italian restaurant in Michigan. It wasn’t till 1998 when I started working at the Voodoo Lounge in Las Vegas as a bar-runner and was captivated by the bar. It was Ken Hall and Allen Mays (at the time, the top flair bartenders in the world) who inspired me to make bartending a career. Needless to say, working in a flair environment, I learned a few tricks. Just enough to be fun, but not enough to be good. Between Ken, Allen and the general manager, I was scolded a few times for flipping bottles before I learned how to tend bar. Their advice: "crawl before you walk, walk before you run," something I’ve been told most of my life but actually heard for the first time here. I went out and purchased any and every cocktail book I could find and read each one from cover to cover. I learned about stirring vs. shaking, fresh produce, the importance of ice, measurement, and much, much more. I was captivated by the history behind these cocktails and was hit with a sense of pride to learn that the cocktail is uniquely an American concept. 
     As my career progressed beyond the VooDoo Lounge, back to Troppo in Michigan, then back to Vegas at the Rum Jungle, one question lingered in my mind, why don’t bars make drinks like the ones I read about anymore? Sometime around 2003 when I moved to California I started noticing a small interest in classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan and the Negroni. Over the next few years I continued reading and expanding my knowledge of the craft. In 2005 I realized the ever growing interest in classic cocktails. It wasn’t until the end of 06 I left my bar gig at the Continental Room in downtown Fullerton and focused my attention on finding a restaurant of my own. 
     In 09 I joined the United States Bartenders Guild - Los Angeles chapter and began to really understand what was going on in the cocktail community. The USBGLA had just elected Marcos Tello as its president and I got to see firsthand bartenders that had actually been tending bar the way I had read about; and not just according to the books I read, but according to cocktail books that dated as far back as 1862. They had broken down these techniques, consulted with cocktail historians and scientists to even go beyond the ancient craft they were trying to resurrect. These guys and gals were not just bringing the trade back but, taking over from where it left off. This is when I completely handed myself over to the study of this forgotten trade.

REBECCA: An Orange County Native, my first job in a restaurant was in 2001. My fascination with cocktails began during my first training on a bar menu, and the many Long Island variations at Spoons in Buena Park. From there I worked at a few chain restaurants working my way up from server to bartender. Meeting Jason in 2003 really helped my career because he trained me how to be a great bartender.
     Over those years not only did I learn valuable customer service lessons, I was able to experience what made the hospitality industry so unique. The bonds that are created by a group of people working so hard for a common goal are special and if it’s the right fit for you, these relationships can be like family. I loved serving people and when I left the industry for a few years after college I honestly missed it. So when Jason was ready to go full force into ownership, I was on board! A few other odd jobs here & there helped me gain the skill set to organize the business end of things.


  1. Geez....I already know Jason & Rebbeca and reading their BIO's is just an exercise of pleasure for me. Don't ya just love these guys! It's no wonder they've created everyone's favorite gathering place. Oh, could also be the absolute best food and drinks.

  2. Yeah it's hard to tell what's better - the service or the food!

  3. This is an absolutely fantastic blog!