There aren’t too many liquor stores that offer gourmet baked goods paired perfectly with your favorite brews, but Gourmet Liquors in Galloway is the exception.
Gourmet Liquors is one of four ventures owned and operated by ICON Hospitality. While each is unique, they all share one vital characteristic: a commitment to excellence. Rich Leone, Beverage Director for the ICON group, took some time out to talk to Heady Times about the business.
Heady Times (HT): How did you find your way to Gourmet Liquors?
Rich Leone (RL): I’ve been at Gourmet Liquors for three
years. Prior to this job, I worked in the casino industry for almost 30 years. I have experience as a beverage manager in various properties including fine dining and premium players clubs.
HT: What sets your store apart from the competiton
RL: Since opening in 2003, we’ve built a hands-on customer service business. We are passionate about delivering a better guest eprierience. We’re an educating company. We try to pass on knowledge to our staff and customers regarding new products as much as we can. Our 14 friendly employees keep the train rolling along. Gournet Liquors also hosts popular beer tastings. We even do pairings with our bakery’s cupcakes. It is very cool and something that nobody in the area can really offer.
HT: How do you decide what beers to bring in?
RL: We stock and carry many different types of beer. Core beers are a no-brainer but we carry a wide variety of seasonals and bring in products upon request from guests. We’re always thinking about what would be the best decision for the store. It’s a lot of trial and error, but we’ve been successful with the help of our Kramer Beverage reps. My assistant beverage manager is quite creative and likes to reorganize the store. We base a good part of our 20-door, 60-foot cooler organization on customer feedback. Our craft beer display runs in front of the entire cooler, and we like to bring on local breweries, as there’s more and more popping up each day and the demand is high. People also come in from out of town, visiting the local resorts and they’re interested in trying the local beer, especially in the summertime.
HT: How do you stay on top of industry trends and changes?
RL: I try to learn something new every day, whether it’s from an organizational standpoint, or from guests. I surround myself with younger staff members who are involved in the craft beer scene. I depend on them and appreciate their knowledge of craft beer.
HT: What’s coming down the pike for Gourmet Liquors?
RL: We’re in the process of adding a delivery service component to the liquor store. How many places are there, where you can pick up the phone, order a pizza and beer or spirits, and have them delivered in a short window of time? We’ll be able to do that soon and we’re excited about the possibilities.