SHAKING UP THE F&B INDUSTRY: JULIAN BRUELL
Parallax | Zach Bruell Restaurant Group | Cleveland, Ohio
Tell us about your background.
Before landing in Cleveland to support my dad’s restaurant group, I lived in New York City where I developed a passion for small wine producers and sustainable growers — particularly those in the specialized natural wine movement. I’ve come to appreciate the farmer-grower mentality and find these wines can be really mind-blowing. Here’s an article that ran locally with a bit more.
What attracts you to the natural style of wine?
I fell into natural wine after attending the Raw Wine Festival in NYC. I like the unpredictability. It’s amazing what nature can give you to work with, and this creates something really special in each bottle. When thinking about food and wine pairings, I also believe natural wines add even more layers to a dish.
Where does your personal inspiration come from?
I come to work every day for the person sitting in the seat across from me. I strive to learn their palate and preferences so that I can contribute to the quality of their experience. Many people have their favorites on the list, but I like to suggest new options that build upon what they know and like. For me, it’s all about gaining their trust and winning them back. Customers are the heart and soul of our business. Right now, it’s a special occasion for anyone to go out and it’s important to enhance their night and make it memorable.
How are you navigating the pandemic?
People aren’t knocking the doors down each day. One night, I had to cut the staff and work alone. We’ve been forced to implement furloughs and I have to look even closer at the numbers. Fortunately, we are allowed indoor dining at 50%, but we have nightly curfews. On a regular night, we served 240, and now it’s closer to 120, which is hard to swallow.
But we’re trying our best and it’s going to get better. This is temporary — there's a lot of good news coming with the vaccine, and we are looking ahead more optimistically. We’ve adopted a heavier retail model and are crafting hand-picked wine orders that they can’t find elsewhere. Customers like that they can still gain access to our wine list and quality producers, even if they don’t come inside.
We’re also hosting wine dinners every other week, which are wonderful experiences with the winemakers and owners. They are attracting a lot of guests, and it’s obviously a lot easier to offer and coordinate virtually.
What do you like about working with the Vanguard Wines team?
I love that they understand my palate. They know what I like and need. They work with fantastic producers and have an incredible list of historic, Old-World producers. It’s more than products to this team. The service is really incomparable, and I have built a personal relationship with my representative. I’ve been with Vanguard Wines since 2016.