We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Pinner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
It was definitely an evolution! The wine and spirits world is logistically changing-from shipping, to wine in a grocery store, to sales on a Sunday. In the South, we have come to accept what other deem as kooky alcohol laws. For as long as I can remember, wine was not allowed to be sold in a grocery store. But, about 6-7 years ago in Tennessee, that changed. As a manager of a local, fine wine and spirits shop, there was a bit of panic. It would be so easy to just grab a quick bottle of dinner wine while stopping for groceries on your way home from work. So, I had to dig deep about what could set us apart, and that was hands down, knowledge and customer service. I approached all reputable caterers, event planners and venue owners and said, when you book a client, send them to me to help with their beverage selections. I got to where I had seen some successful parties and some not so successful ones. I figured out the right questions to ask a client and gently steer them away from possible costly mistakes. This became a very popular and successful resource for clients hosting a large party.
As I began meeting more event planners and caterers that would come to Chattanooga for a destination event, I could see that they really appreciated the help of beverages as they had enough on their plate. They would return to their hometowns, but would often reach out to me for advice or assistance with a clients needs.
That’s when the lightbulb went on! If they need this help, then others must too. So, I branded my business and set out to introduce myself to planners, caterers and venue owners all over the US and a few in the UK!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I started waiting tables in my early twenties as a way to pay the rent. Like many people, I believed the hospitality industry would be a temporary career. But I discovered I thrived in the hustle and loved interacting with so many different people every day.
A few years later I moved into management at one of Chattanooga’s premier fine dining restaurants. My time there taught me so much about high-end cuisine, the art of entertaining and also served as my introduction to the wine industry.
The next evolution in my career came when I was recruited to manage a locally-owned fine wine and spirits shop. I began learning a new facet of the beverage industry. I also started establishing relationships with customers and understanding how to match products to their palates, needs and budgets.
After five years of honing these skills, I launched a new service at the shop that customized wine, beer and spirits for special events in southeast Tennessee. Five years after that, I launched Beverage BFF.
Whether you are an individual, event planner, caterer, nonprofit organization, or anything in-between, I can help you determine the correct amount and types of adult beverages you need for your event while saving you time, money and stress. Let me become your Beverage BFF.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The outdoor scene in Chattanooga is nationally recognized. With the mountains and the Tennessee River within a few miles of wherever you land, a hike on a mountain trail is a must. A visit to the historic and newly renovated Chattanooga Choo-Choo and grabbing lunch at Stir is a perfect start to the day. Staying in the downtown area and exploring the fun, local art galleries and shops would take you right up to cocktails and dinner at Easy Bistro.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to give a shoutout to my friend, Adelaide, owner of Divine Goods, for pushing me and encouraging my idea. Also, my amazing planner friends and caterers in Chattanooga. They have been incredible.