Hospitality professionals in St. Louis grapple with the future of the industry

  • Courtesy of the genie room
  • Industry professionals will meet on Monday to discuss the path forward for hospitality professionals.

How the hospitality industry is moving forward after facing a year and a half of unprecedented challenges will be the topic of discussion Monday at an industry roundtable held at Art Crazy.

The event, Rebuilding Our Community Together, will be hosted by Media Personality and Chief Curator of the Hermann Museum and the Katherine Neville Museum with the aim of bringing people together to share their ideas on how to rebuild the food and beverage community as a more inclusive one. industry and build its people.

“The pandemic hit, and the food and beverage industry was devastated,” says Neville. “We see that people don’t come back, and they don’t come back for some reason. The pay isn’t good, the hours can be really hard, and often there are no benefits. It can be really hard to find a work-life balance. There are also a lot of issues with sexism and racism. And all of these doctrines that people don’t want to deal with. I think the industry is at an inflection point where people need to take a look at why people aren’t coming back and how we can make it healthier and more supportive and allow for personal and professional growth.”

The roundtable is organized by Natasha Bahrami of Gin Room, who organized the event on the sidelines of her Ginworld symposium. Although she usually uses her Ginworld platform as a learning tool, she felt very strongly that she wanted to make time for this important discussion.

“In the past month or so, we have been trying to revitalize the industry with informal gatherings around wine on our patio, and a lot of the conversations center around concerns about the future sustainability of the industry and even frustration about inclusivity and women in the industry,” Bahrami says. “I’ve had multiple groups come to me, and we all felt we needed to work together because we all had the same issues.”

One problem pointed out by both Bahrami and Neville is the ongoing staffing crisis that has made it difficult for restaurants and bars to find the help they need to operate at full capacity. Bahrami, Neville and the roundtable participants hope the event will start a conversation about ways not only to bring people back, but also to foster a new generation of talent, particularly on the beverage side of the business.

“In the world of food, not everyone goes to culinary school, but there is that option, as well as the opportunity to present what is being prepared,” Neville says. “It’s part of what you do to become good, and we don’t see the same reflected in drinks. It makes sense to talk about a mentorship program to help young people who really want to eliminate it in the industry.”

Veteran bartender Tony Saputo has this idea in mind for the Platypus, the next bar he’ll open with fellow beverage professional Meredith Barry. He is keen to be a part of the discussion not just to share his thoughts, but to learn from others.

“I think right now, the most important thing for us is the work issue that everyone has,” Saputo says. “It’s a challenge to bring in new people. And that directional mindset is the reason why we say at Platypus we don’t want people with experience intentionally. We want people to come excited about a job who might know nothing but who is willing to learn.”

Saputo joins other professionals in the field, including Barry, Ted Kilgore, Phil Ingrim, Alicia Blackwell-Calvert, Brad Phillips and more for a conversation that is poised to be a lively conversation. The event starting at 11am is free and open to all and lunch will be provided. to sign up , visit here.

We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at cheryl.baehr@riverfronttimes.com.

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