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On Premise Advice: The Essential Industry-Related Reading List

By August 1, 2023Rhode Island, Top News

Len Panaggio, Beverage Consultant

By Len Panaggio

Just like that, we are at the midpoint of summer. While business is still strong, the mid-August exodus of students will begin, exacerbating an already acute labor shortage. The remaining staff will be stretched to the limit, performing many doubles until Columbus Day Weekend. I always shared with my staff to basically roll with it, as we all know what happens to the resort communities with the arrival of fall and kids returning to school. On the flip side, the cities will pick up some of the business and, perhaps, even some staff. I am still baffled by the fact that there is a shortage of bartenders; many places can’t open up sections of their restaurants because of a lack of bar staff. I never thought I would live to see that day!

Aside from what is coming, and I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer, just stating the facts, August gives us the time to prepare for fall. The days are growing shorter and, at times, we get a glimpse of cooler, more refreshing air. I thought I would talk about industry-related reading. I myself read certain magazines for several reasons, the biggest being what trends are surfacing. Gone are the days where we could sit back and basically change something occasionally. The marketplace is so dynamic nowadays; we all need to be ready to adjust to whatever new thing is being thrust upon us.

Two magazines come to mind that are industry-related. The first is a national magazine, that being Market Watch published by M. Shanken Communications, Inc. Its basic mission is to provide “the information needs of the on-premise and off-premise markets for spirits, wine and beer.” I find it quite useful; the articles are not overly long and many have cocktail recipes that are trending. It also provides previews of what new beers, wines and spirits are coming to the market.

The second magazine is the one you are reading, The Beverage Journal. Dana Slone and her crew have really transformed the magazine in so many ways. Clearly, its major function is to provide our industry with the go-to pages that list products, who carries them and the pricing. If you want to purchase a particular product that is available in Rhode Island, this is the easy reference tool to locate the distributor and pricing. I do remember the days before the current transformation when the Journal would always have a few syndicated articles, which were fine. But Dana’s mission was to add to those articles by featuring articles focused on Rhode Island. Certainly, my articles each month, along with those from RI Hospitality Association’s Dale Venturini, strive to provide readers with on-premise advice and legislative updates. But Dana really has drilled down to feature certain events at restaurants and interesting interviews of off-premise operators. And, yes, she also has new products to the state listed. The amount of useful information has grown substantially, as well as the number of distributors and products to our state. Bravo, to the team!

In addition to these two trade magazines, on the consumer side there are many, but I can’t read them all. My list includes Food & Wine (the title gives away the content) and Travel + Leisure, which incorporates many articles featuring bar and kitchen staff of hotels and restaurants in exotic locations. I think it is important to read about what our guests are experiencing, as, in time, much of what is happening trickles down to little Rhody!

One final reminder for this time of year: August is when Oktoberfest beers come out, so be prepared. I will be reminding you of the short window to sell them. My two favorites, by the way, are Sam Adams and Spaten, in case you needed to know. Happy August and Prost!

Len Panaggio’s career in food and wine spans more than three decades as an owner and as a beverage director at some of the top restaurants in Rhode Island. Currently a hospitality consultant, Len is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and has attended the Culinary Institute of America Master Sommelier program and the Sterling School of Service and Hospitality.


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