As with any industry in existence, times change and the need to evolve becomes inevitable. We have seen and experienced so much evolution in the foodservice and commercial kitchen equipment industry recently; whether it be the equipment and technology itself or how users are utilizing and interacting with their equipment, here at Apex, we take a deep appreciation of the consumer experience by paying attention to what is being talked about, not only in the industry as a whole, but out in the field. The biggest advantage sales reps have in helping to provide the right solutions for our customers is being out in the field and asking questions.
Engaging with the consumers and being involved with the actual users of the equipment we're implementing has led us to develop a new position within our company. We'd like to welcome Toree Gotsis to the Apex team!
Having extensive experience in the bar & hospitality industry Toree will be involved in everything related to the bar. Her support will be in the form of bar design and workflow, hosting mixology, beer and wine classes and even cocktail menu and concept consultation.
To get you more acquainted with Toree we took a moment to sit down and ask her a few questions:
How long have you been in the bar/service industry?
I pretty much grew up within the industry. I started in the back-of-house when I was 15 years old and then worked almost every position I could. I hosted, served, managed and then finally when I was 22 I started bartending. That’s when I knew the bar was how I wanted to move up within the industry. I started to learn everything I could about recipes, cocktails, new products and new bars opening in Chicago. I bartended for 4 years at Weber Grill Restaurant downtown and that’s where I really learned about speed, multi-tasking, managing drink tickets, and bar conversation.
Once I parted ways with Weber Grill I began working with 4 Star, a Chicago-based restaurant group. That’s where I truly learned about making craft cocktails, and not just slinging drinks. There is definitely a difference between the two and I just wanted to learn more about the craft of building a balanced, creative cocktail.
Then, the opportunity of becoming a bar ambassador for Roanoke Hospitality, another Chicago-based hospitality group, presented itself. They gave me the freedom to take my experience and apply it to the bar program of their new hotel & restaurant concept and make it something I wanted it to be. They allowed me to be creative and experiment with ingredients, methods and garnishes to develop truly unique craft cocktails. It was such a great experience working with them and it enabled me to meet such amazing people who in return taught me a great deal.
What do you see as the hottest bar trend(s)?
I definitely think a hot trend is bringing the kitchen to the bar. Meaning, ingredients thought to only be used for cooking are now being used to develop some amazing flavors in cocktails. When I was at Roanoke, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen prepping my syrups, garnishes, and infusions. It really creates endless possibilities behind the bar. I mean, when you can drink a duck fat washed bourbon - you know it’s a fun time for the bar world.
What are the most common bar failures you are seeing or have experienced in the industry?
Oh man...off the top of my head the biggest one I see constantly is not setting up a bartender for optimum success. This goes all the way back to the initial design and layout of the bar. The bar can be the most profitable part of a restaurant, and yet the overall bar layout is often times over-looked, and not set up properly to yield its potential based on its offerings. When a bartender has to run back and forth behind the bar, that is time wasted that could have been used more productively. I’ve worked in bars that weren't the most user-friendly, and instead cause you to spend most of your shift frustrated - not a good look for a bartender who is taking care of guests.
What's the most important aspect(s) of the guest experience (at the bar and in the restaurant)?
The most important aspects I try to hit are quality, timeliness, and personality. Quality meaning that each and every drink I put out should taste good to the guest. Plain and simple. A bartender is there to make something the guest should enjoy. Timeliness being there is nothing worse than waiting an obnoxious amount of time to be greeted, get that first cocktail, etc. Finally, the most important I think is personality. Did the guest leave the bar happy? Will they come back or tell their friends how amazing, not only the drinks were, but the bartender as well? Did the bartender elevate their meal or cocktail? I think that sometimes people lose sight of the hospitality part of the industry.
What's in your ideal cocktail menu?
My ideal cocktail menu would be simple. Using quality ingredients to create a quality drink. You don’t have to have 15 ingredients in a cocktail for it to be good. Right now I am really into riffs on the classics. They are classic cocktails for a reason - they taste great! Tweaking one ingredient can effect the flavor so much and now you have a whole new cocktail, but half of the work was already done for you ☺
Toree will be based out of Chicago, but will spread her services to our entire representative territory.