It seems that each of this year’s conferences have offered once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and Indy did not disappoint!
On Sunday, we checked-in to The Alexander Hotel, an amazing art-focused hotel that was beautiful! To kick things off, we headed to the Board Room to enjoy cocktails and appetizers sponsored by Campari USA, enjoy the great views of the city from the terrace and hear an incredible keynote from Greg Buttera on the importance of putting yourself first. We then headed to Adobo Grill for some margaritas and Mexican food sponsored by Proximo. The evening ended with a nightcap at Libertine.
On Monday, the seminars started with a panel discussion on opening a bar led by the Greater Detroit Chapter. We discussed the importance of really knowing your concept before getting started, learning to delegate and build a dream team, the pros and cons of opening in a smaller market and how to avoid burnout. The morning continued with a panel discussion moderated by Josh Mason on starting a brand, whether you were looking to start a distillery, brewery, roastery, etc. We learned how each panelist got started, what their next steps are and what they wish they would have known in the beginning. After lunch in Plat 99 at the hotel sponsored by Patron, we started the afternoon session with the ever-fabulous and highly entertaining, Dean Serneels with Reàl Cocktail Ingredients. Dean taught us various tricks for adding flair to our service and everyone got a chance to practice. The afternoon continued with a seminar on Low Proof Cocktails, presented by Greg Buttera and sponsored by Campari USA. The last session of the day was the Aroma Academy sponsored by Diageo/Tanqueray No. 10, 3 Badge/Uncle Val’s, and Vin Divino/London No. 1. Next we jumped on a bus and headed to North End BBQ and Moonshine for an incredible dinner and cocktails sponsored by Glazer’s of Indiana and Heaven Hill. Our next stop was Bent Rail Brewery for an ABSOLUT Cocktail Competition sponsored by Pernod-Ricard and Reàl Infused Syrups. Tini was the host of our nightcap sponsored by Copper and Kings.
We started Tuesday with a very welcomed seminar on Health and Wellness featuring Dr. Kline. Dr. Kline taught us the importance of nutrition and adding probiotics and a shot of aloe vera juice to our daily routine. She then led us through some great exercises and stretches to help keep our muscles and joints fluid before, during and after a shift at the bar. She also taught us things to look for in how we work that could lead to repetitive motion injuries. The next session was a roundtable discussion on Effective Meetings, Chapter Conduct and Social Media Responsibility led by Jason Foust (MW RVP), Kyle McHugh (National VP) and Aaron Gregory Smith (Executive Director). The morning ended with the MW Regional Council of Chapter’s Quarterly Meeting. Kansas City gave a great presentation on why they will be a great host chapter for the 2017 MW Regional Conference!!! We also had time to discuss some of the challenges and/or successes that each chapter has experienced recently. Next, it was time to load the bus again and head to Pioneer for an incredible German lunch of spätzle and sausage and featuring Jägermeister cocktails. Again….3rd city with Jägermeister as a conference sponsor and the amazing cocktails just keep coming!!! They have been some of the tastiest and most memorable cocktails of each conference! The décor was beyond amazing and better yet….all made by local businesses. Throughout lunch, Brand Ambassador, Willy Shine discussed the importance of better communications and more empathy for the back of house team. Several members of the Pioneer Team discussed how they make it work and how the whole team has each other’s backs.
After lunch, it was back on the bus with some of the most delicious iced tea I’ve ever had (wink…wink). We enjoyed a lovely drive to the INDIANAPOLIS SPEEDWAY!!! Fuzzy’s Vodka hosted us in The Pagoda for cocktails and appetizers. Team Owner and Driver, Ed Carpenter, was on hand to share what it’s like to be a race car driver and what a possible win at the Indy 500 means to a driver. We were then allowed to do down on the track and kiss the bricks! Before we left, Fuzzy’s presented us with commemorative bottles celebrating the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500….Ed Carpenter even signed a few! The day doesn’t end there, though.
We were back on the bus and heading to the hotel for a much-welcomed break before heading to the World Class Announcement Party sponsored by Ketel One. Big congratulations going out to the three MW Finalists who will be advancing to the National Finals in June - - - Giancarlo Aversa (Greater Detroit), Joshua Gonzales (Indianapolis), and Egor Polonskiy (Chicago).
Another Wednesday and more reluctant goodbyes to the incredible group of members that I enjoyed meeting and reconnecting with over the past few days. The Indianapolis Chapter and especially Jessica Taylor, Jason Foust, and Tiffany Wedekind should be so proud of what they were able to accomplish as hosts of this year’s MW Regional Conference. The conference was packed with education, fun, camaraderie and several unexpected extras that we will all remember for years to come. Thank you to everyone that made this conference possible through planning, sponsorships, and attendance!