Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Meeting Russ Rowlands: Industry SOS

I wasn't able to make it out to the first Independent Boast and Toast organized by Russ Rowlands at Rowers Pub two weekends ago, so we met up at Toronto's oldest pub The Wheatsheaf for a pint and to talk about the future of his company: Industry SOS.

First we talked a little about the event and Russ was pleased with how everything went. He hoped that the event would have attracted more people but he understands he made some rookie mistakes that won't happen again. But the people who were there had a great time from what I heard and drank a lot of quality craft beer. He mentioned that the Ontario brewers who participated served up some great beer and had a good time taking to the customers.

I asked Russ why he started his business and how he came about the idea. He has worked in the hospitality industry since he was 14 years old doing all sorts of jobs ranging from cooking to managing, in mostly independent restaurants/pubs. It wasn't until he became a general manager of an unnamed franchise restaurant that he saw a opportunity to help out the little guy. You see, Russ witnessed how franchise places treat employees like a number, focusing on the bottom line instead of creating a inviting atmosphere to work. The franchise's goal, as is the case for most large restaurant companies, is to get customers in and out as quick as possible therefore making more money. He also witnessed how the big box restaurants were starting to move into the city, forcing out smaller independent owners who couldn't battle a price war.

Russ didn't like what he saw so he started Industry SOS as a way to help independent owners out with everything from serving to payroll analysis, surveying the customers and actually managing the place. He offers advice, guidance and ideas on how to increase customer base, or most importantly; how to retain customers. One big goal is to ensure that the servers, dishwashers, cooks and everyone behind the scenes are kept happy, because a miserable server can make or break a pub.

Back to the event. Russ plans on hosting another one in late January or early February. This time around he plans on having more of a marketing budget and with the help of beer bloggers and word of mouth, he estimates it will be more successful than the first.

Congratulations Russ on your business and I wish you all the best. I am a huge supporter of independent pub owners and quality craft beer and mixing the two together to help build awareness is just great.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was at the event at Rower's. I look forward to the next one. I hope it was the first of many.

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