Ep. 37 Lisa Cloutier: The Business of Craft Distilleries

Lisa Cloutier grew up in Northwest Montana and spent time on the East coast in prep school and college. . Lisa has been in the hospitality business in NW Montana for the past 25 years. She opened a gourmet pizza and brew place out of college with a good friend and went on to open The Raven on Flathead Lake, followed by The Islander Inn - a small boutique inn, then Whistling Andy Distillery with her husband Brian Anderson, and finally Bonfire - a farm to table restaurant 2 years ago.

In this episode, we talked about:

  • Lisa’s journey as an entrepreneur
  • Her Farm-to-table restaurant – Bonfire and some challenges that farmers faced
  • How she balances running multiple businesses at once
  • What it’s like living in Montana
  • Ins and outs of starting a craft distillery company, “Whistling Andy”
  • Journey and success of  “Whistling Andy” and its distribution in other four countries
  • And MUCH MORE!

Resources and Links:

https://whistlingandy.com/

Connect with Lisa

https://www.facebook.com/whistlingandy
https://www.facebook.com/theravenbigfork
https://www.facebook.com/MontanaBonfire
https://www.facebook.com/IslanderInnBigfork

Transcription:

Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

Eric Malzone: [00:00:00] We are live Lisa Cloutier. Welcome to the black diamond podcast.

Lisa Clotier: [00:01:19] Hello,

Eric Malzone: [00:01:20] I'm excited to have you, , I'm a big fan of your whiskey, , and your vodka and basically everything that you make, , with whistling, Andy, and I've actually didn't know until, , One of our conversations a few months ago that you also own a few restaurants down in big fork that I love.

And for people wondering who are outside of Montana, , these are all places. These are. Well, you can get whistling Andy everywhere now, I think, but we'll talk about that. , but these are location specific to the Flathead Valley in Montana, where both Lisa and I live and, , yeah, you do good work. I love it.

And I'm really excited having you on the show and, , and talk about all the things that you do as a business owner and entrepreneur here in this great state of Montana. So I think one of the good places to start Lisa is just give us your story.how'd you get to be a business owner? How do you get to be an entrepreneur?

What happened.

Lisa Clotier: [00:02:04] Okay. So yeah, it sounds like a million years ago, but about 26 years ago, when I graduated from a college back East, I grew up in Montana, went to prep school in college, high school, smit prep school back East, but most mainly in Montana came back after college to spend the smer and ended up getting into the restaurant business.

About a year later, I bought my first one, which was the Raven. At least that for about 10, 10, 12 years. And then after that actually bought the property and part of buying the property was, , across the street. They had a low-income housing, which we ended up making it into an eight room boutique hotel.

So that was kinda my first interest into the restaurant thing. We also were, I ran restaurants at Eagle bend golf course back in the day. Sevo some different ones, but the Ravens kind of always been my, my baby and the one I started with for sure. And then from there about 10 years ago, we opened up whistling Andy distillery.

And that has been more of a passion with my husband and wanting to be able to craft something in the state of Montana and then being able to turn around and sell it to the world. And also. Process of that is that we're supporting something that we believe pretty adamantly in, which is not only the American farmer, but of course, for us, the Montana farmer, because we've watched them go through, Oh, so many trials and tribulations to me, that's probably the most admirable profession out there.

So watching what the farmers do. And so we turn around and try to support them and agriculturally through our restaurants and through the distillery. So kind of a focus on egg for sure. And then two years ago we opened up our, because we two and a half years now it opened up our farm to table restaurant, which is bonfire, , down in woods Bay as well.

So that was kind of where I started and where we're at now. So two restaurants, a little hotel and whistling. Andy distillery. Awesome.

Eric Malzone: [00:03:45] Yeah. Bonfire is excellent as well. I might add, , really enjoyed the bartenders there. Really cool. Yeah. They're

Lisa Clotier: [00:03:50] they're really, we've got, we've got a really neat team.

Eric Malzone: [00:03:52] Yeah.

, yeah, I'm curious, I'm going to dive in this a little bit and I don't want to, I know you're not, , you know, in the farming industry, but it sounds like you kinda know you work with them and you advocate a little bit for them not officially, but what, what are, you know, if you look at educate us a little bit, well, you know, over the last 10 to 20 years, what are some of the challenges that farmers have seen?

Cause I don't think people really understand or know or have an educated on it.

Lisa Clotier: [00:04:17] I think at the end of the day  we're so far away from where the Mo for so many people, we're so far away from how the food is actually being grown, that when they're looking at these large format farms, which happened in Montana from your corn to your soy, Et cetera, et cetera, they're dealing with commodities.

So as things are going up and down on the international scale, as hard as they can do, if they can plant everything perfect. If they can farm everything, it's not like they're guaranteed the same amount of profit or a profit at all year to year, quarter to quarter, month to month. So the variables that are in there are huge on the, you know, on the large gear farming.

When we look at our small local farmers, , we use a variety of different ones at the restaurant. Western Montana co-op is one that. It's kind of a neat situation for Northwest Montana. They've reached out to a ton of different farmers in the Northwest part of the state of Montana, and then they deliver directly to restaurants.

So we're able to use a lot of different farmers and then we do whatever we can to support Pam up at purple frogs and Whitefish because they're working really hard to try to bring. The food to us that we want all, I think that we should be eating and that we want to be serving for sure. And the restaurants and the quality's just, and, you know, hopefully at this point everybody's had a tomato out of the garden versus out of the grocery store and they're just two different products.

And so I think some of the challenges that farmers have, probably our distribution and the unknown of the seasons. I mean, they have a really early cold snap in the middle of. September. And there goes their tomato crop that they could have maybe had for another three weeks or whatever it may be. Or it's a late growing season.

We had a low season this year for cherries and apples down on the East Lake shore. So I think the seasonality, they just deal with so many more challenges than most of us are dealing with.

Eric Malzone: [00:05:56] Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's hard to put yourself in the shoes of the farmer. I mean, it's, it's such a it's it's, , it's not just a business.

It's a complete lifestyle. Right. It's

Lisa Clotier: [00:06:03] a lifestyle. I mean, they wake up and I mean, if it's hailing out today, that can ruin, you know, eight months of work versus the rest of us are like, Oh, that's super annoying. Right. And it's not, you know, so we got a dent in the windshield or whatever it may be. I mean, for a lot of people, their livelihoods depend on something.

They have absolutely no control over. Yeah.

Eric Malzone: [00:06:25] Yeah, that's a, I'm going to educate myself. We'll actually look into getting a couple of farmers on the show too. Cause I like to, , learn about it and kind of educate the public on it as well.

Lisa Clotier: [00:06:34] He's got some amazing ones up in Whitefish, some amazing, amazing

Eric Malzone: [00:06:36] farms.

Who would you recommend?

Lisa Clotier: [00:06:39] I will give Pam at purple frog. She's old school does everything really cool. , to bear farms is really fantastic as well. Awesome. Ravens Ridge. Yeah. There's your truck full of great farmers.

Eric Malzone: [00:06:51] Yeah. Yeah. Awesome.

Lisa Clotier: [00:06:52] Well, you know, I think

Eric Malzone: [00:06:54] one of the things, when I hear you talk, you have, your restaurant bar, you have a hotel, you have a distillery, you have a farm to table restaurant.

, how. How, how do you do all these things? I mean, let's not like it's not like any one of these really non time consing businesses. I mean, I've known restaurants, yours. , they work, you, , work very hard, right? To make those things happen. How do you balance four businesses and one which has actually, you know, , you know, whistling and we can talk in any, I'm curious to learn about that, but you know, you're distributing now.

How do you balance all

Lisa Clotier: [00:07:33] this? Some days, I feel like you do a fantastic job, but I think the other six days of the week, I'm like, Oh my God, are the wheels going to come off? It's , more than anything, you know, making sure I'm trying to get better at delegation. You would think after 25 years I would be excellent at it.

It's not really my it's not my forefront thing, but I'm getting better and better. How do I do it every day? I don't know. I guess we get up, we don't take a lot of time off. , unfortunately, you know, I love what we do for a living too. A lot of, you know, up until, you know, the last eight to 10 months, we were traveling fairly extensively around the country, around the world for that matter as well.

And so I was taking three or four days at the end of every trip to spend time in Tokyo, to go see things in Taiwan to do that wherever we were at. And I think at this point we kind of, we spent the smer working. Almost every single day and they're long days. So it's, you know, we're a good 10, 12 hours into it's a lot of time and effort.

Versus as things start to slow down, we closed down the restaurants for a couple of weeks during the election period. And to give our staff a little break. Now it's kinda time to refocus. To take that time and honing in on like what needs to get fixed. We had a ton of staffing issues and problems at the Raven that we don't ever want to go through again.

And so setting ourselves up for really successful 20, 21 seasons important and taking that time to maybe step back and be like, okay, here's the mistakes? Here's the successes. Here's the wins. Here's the losses. What do we do to improve everything? And I think I mentally always in trying to be like, okay, what's the next step that will make the businesses better and make this the best place to work.

And so the Raven's a challenge because of what happened this smer with COVID. We had a lot of angry customers that, that it was just kind of a switch in the mentality of being like, Hey, we're supposed to be this fun Caribbean beach bar and people are angry because they have to wear a mask. I'm sorry, you know, yelling at our staff.

That was, you know, that's a. Thing that I think you're probably hearing for most restaurant tours around the country at this point that it's been a little, a bit of a challenge whistling Andy on the other. Yeah. And it's really trying to have, make that time and find the time to look at the really big picture as we're trying to export to four different countries.

We're trying to grow our stateside sales as well. And more than anything is keeping up with Montana's demand, which has grown hugely in the last year. I mean, the support from the state of Montana for our products has been incredible. So it's just more, anything is working on that balancing act. Yeah.

Eric Malzone: [00:09:50] You know, one of the things I think about is what makes you.

Decided to open another business. I mean, you have a Raven, you had the boutique hotel, , you know, you decide to open a distillery, but what, what drives you to continue to open a new one? Start something new. Is there, , do you love the process of starting a new one or was it monetarily driven that you needed to get out there and do something bigger?

What, what drives you to start all the new ones?

Lisa Clotier: [00:10:17] For monetary gain, you probably don't start in the food and beverage industry. So I don't know if that's probably ever been. I think it's more of a passion for the craft of what we do. And the community around us bonfire was more of a location situation where like, okay, this is a great spot. I felt like we could turn something in.

And I had, at that point wanted to do something that was. The ability to be a little more farm to table focused versus the Raven. Our menu has been established for so long. We're not in a situation where we can change a lot of, you know, it doesn't make sense to change a lot of things versus bonfire allows us to have a very seasonal quarterly menu that keeps up with how the farmers are doing what's coming in and out of Montana.

You know, we try to, I think everything on the menu at this point, other than the shrimp is all sourced within, you know, an hour, hour and a half of the restaurant. So we've definitely, you know, we have the app, the EMU, the. No, I don't know all the different devices. Does it have everything locally coming out of here?

So I think that was kind of one is wanting to start those. And then I think that curiosity, I mean, the distillery for was definitely my husband's sprained child and he really wanted something that wasn't in. You know, I think he's watched us go through the seasonality of the restaurants in a resort town and wanted a product that we could make year round and have a business that we could take out and bring to the world.

Eric Malzone: [00:11:38] Yeah. I mean, the, , I think one of the reasons I've looked for you, I found you on LinkedIn as I do for many of my guests left LinkedIn. , but we had, when we spent time in big fork, we had gone to whistling. Andy really enjoyed it, really enjoyed the people there. I want to learn more about it. And, you know, I was just generally curious about the business of being in a distillery.

, and that's, I'm, I'm curious about that. I mean, it seems like 10 years ago, microbrewery, maybe even longer microbreweries were popping up everywhere. Right. Still very popular. , now I feel like these distilleries, you know, I don't know if it might go to Shirley as a writer. Term, but certainly they're popping up everywhere as well.

And people are getting really into and really passionate about, , you know, the, the spirits that, that they're drinking. What, tell me about that business. Like, how is it expensive to start? Does it, , you know, how, what, what do people not know when they're getting into that business?

Lisa Clotier: [00:12:30] I think the two biggest takeaways when you're going to get into this industry.

Well, first of all, let me clarify something within our industry. There's two different routes that people go, , Where, and this is not a negative thing. I know that there's ones out there that are successful and some of them are owned by friends, but the inside, you know, internally we say the label makers where they don't actually have a physical plant where they're just buying, they're buying product.

They're coming up with the concepts, very often the flavor profiles and so forth. And then there might basically marketing a product. So we have a lot of those in the craft distillery or the craft is still industry. And then the other half of us are. We're actually distilling, you know, milling mashing, every fermenting, everything in-house, you can always tell which products are being done.

Some, some, a lot of distilleries in Montana or a combination of the two, it's just depends on everybody's business model. So I think that that first thing is kind of look at where you want to do. Is this just because you want to market a product and you have an idea, or do you actually want to get into the craft of making a product, which I think if you sit down and talk to the guy, you know, Brian and gave and Patrick to actually make the product.

I think that they tell you that all they do is clean because that's basically what I feel like all I ever see them doing, I'm like we can make product or we just cleaned. Cause every time, I mean, it's cause it's, you know, that's the most important thing is making sure everything's crazy. So it seems like, I think that whole dream, I mean, we have people that come in and want to spend a week with us learning how to distill.

And I think a lot of them leave being like, Oh, I just spent a week cleaning and I'm like, yeah, we kind of get everything set up. And then that's just what goes on. So that's, you know, that's probably a little bit, and then the other thing is. You're taking such a leap of faith because it's against the law to own a still distill alcohol until you have a license.

So it's not like you're home brewing or you're making wine. At home and you're like, Oh my gosh, I've gotten really good at this. People love my product. You have to actually have, before you apply for your license, you need to have either rent or buy a piece of property and you have to have your money down on a still.

And so those are two pretty big financial leaps of faith before even know if you're going to be licensed or he even are good at what you're doing. So there's a big leap of faith in this industry that doesn't happen in a lot of other. I guess, I can't think what else, really, what other places are like you can't practice before you start.

Eric Malzone: [00:14:41] Yeah. Yeah. Right. That's huge. Well, I, I, I spent, , I brewed one batch of beer. , a few years back. And that's what I remember. I thought it was going to be very different, but all I ended up doing was cleaning sanitizing, cleaning. And I was like, well, I'd rather, I'm much better at drinking than making it.

And that's so soon thereafter, , you know, I sold the whole thing for like 50 bucks at a garage sale.

Lisa Clotier: [00:15:04] , and

Eric Malzone: [00:15:04] hopefully it made someone happy. And it, it isn't. So how much, if you're going to buy a, still for like what you guys are using at the quantity that you're making, how much, I mean, that across an investment isn't cheap either, right?

I mean, this isn't,

Lisa Clotier: [00:15:18] I mean, just the base still. And that's before your fermentors, your pps, your tanks, the mill, the mash tank and everything else, but just the base still, you're going to be on the low end, probably 75 to 90,000. Right. And then from there, I mean, each tank just, you know, obviously everything's pretty much, everything's stainless steel.

We're anywhere from 25 to 30,000 for your mash, you know, another 10 for milling and then fermenters are kind of, and tanks are kind of all over the board anywhere from three to 15,000, each. And then it seems like the part that's kind of crazy out there is when I kind of look at it, you know, when we started our original budget and even when we're, as we're growing, we just put a new mash tank.

We're getting ready to get a new, still is all those little, the hoses, the fittings and all these little things. It's just like, Oh, there's another 5,000 off the door. So it's a very cash intense to begin without a

Eric Malzone: [00:16:08] doubt. Yeah. And I, from what I've talked to, cause I'll talk to people when I stopped by distillery is one of my favorite things to do.

You know, you can't start with burdens, right? Bourbons and whiskeys generally need age. So you have to start what's the order in which most, most distilleries kind of start. Pping out their products.

Lisa Clotier: [00:16:26] So most of the time, what you're going to start with, I mean, we were probably a little different than a lot of them.

, you're going to start with Jenner vodka. They don't have any agent tea. They don't have any, you know, there's no, well, I shouldn't say that we are aging genes, but your baseline, Jen, you know, our cucber, a pink peppercorn and our vodka, none of them, they don't have to go into barrels. So they go from tank to, if, you know, either go from distill into a mixing tank to.

Dilute them or whatever with the water. And then they go into the bottle versus things that are either 18 and stainless steel, which is our hibiscus coconut r, or the bourbons, the whiskeys. And now we're coming out with agents and those all sit in the tanks for our bear. I'm sorry, tanks barrels for anywhere from a year to five, six years for us, obviously at different people a longer time.

Yeah.

Eric Malzone: [00:17:11] Hmm. And so when you started selling, did you sell at a physical location and then get into a couple stores? Or what was the, how did you start to build now? I mean, you're going into four countries, which I'm very curious to hear about as well, but what were the steps forward to get you to that point?

Where now you're about to distribute in four countries.

Lisa Clotier: [00:17:28] I'm probably a little different. The rest of our team probably would have taken it a little slower. , we came out with our first product, which was our hibiscus coconut r. , we did a small opening locally in big fork, but then the next thing we did was went to the Manhattan cocktail classic in New York city.

And that's where we launched our hibiscus coconut r. And within the six months that followed the six months to follow that. We were able to pick up a pretty good chunk of press across the country from national, from awards to national press. From there, we launched into Washington state Nevada and New Jersey.

And so those were the three States we really concentrated in and on. And then from there we've been working, I've been working with the USDA, , and discuss, and the, you know, the Montana. Import export and the Montana department of commerce commerce. I'm bringing our products to markets outside of the us.

So it's kinda been a stage throughout the years, but right off the bat, we were always interested in trying to. Have the product B not only in Montana, but outside of the state.

Eric Malzone: [00:18:26] Yeah. Awesome. And how long has it been? When did you actually start whistling anything?

Lisa Clotier: [00:18:31] This is our tender anniversary this year.

I know I'm really excited. It's been because we had all these amazing things planned and then it was just like, gosh, did we throw celebrations? Do we do which. You know, we're going to, we're going to take the conservative road on that and just have, you know, different bottle releases that gave, and Brian have been working on for years.

So we have a bottle of bond coming out for tenure. We have a five-year-old whiskey. , we're doing another spice dr. So we're just doing some special releases. , starting about the middle of November through middle of January to celebrate our ten-year anniversary. But yeah, we're really excited. It's , it's definitely, it's been an interesting business and thrilled to death.

We made it 10 years. Yeah.

Eric Malzone: [00:19:10] Yeah. That's a, that is exciting. I mean, you know, it's funny as I always reflect on, because I use it all. I say it all the time and then I have to remind myself all the time is everyone. Greatly overestimates, what they can do in one year, but underestimate what they can do in 10.

Would you say looking back in the last 10 years, you'd say that was accurate.

Lisa Clotier: [00:19:27] That is so accurate. And I don't, I've never thought about like that, but that's very, very

Eric Malzone: [00:19:30] true. Yeah. Cause we always think we're going to be highly successful in the short term. And then we're like, Oh wait a minute. If you actually think about it, this is like a 10 year vision, 20 year vision.

Lisa Clotier: [00:19:38] Then you always on, when you do those business plans and they're so well laid out, you're like, Oh, we'll be profitable in three years or five years. And then you're just like, Hmm. Still having ramen year three. Great.

Eric Malzone: [00:19:50] Oh man. What, , out of curiosity, what countries are you guys going into? What are the four countries that you're talking about?

Lisa Clotier: [00:19:55] So we launched into Taiwan last December. , we had our, we were supposed to be in South Africa in Japan, this last spring due to COVID. Those are getting both pushed off, but they look like they'll happen again.

, probably in the first or second quarter of 2021. And so South Africa, Australia, Taiwan, and Japan are the four countries we've been working with. Awesome.

Eric Malzone: [00:20:16] Why those, it seems like a kind of a random clping.

Lisa Clotier: [00:20:21] It is random. , Japan's one that wealth, my husband and I just because of their working shifts, the craftsmanship, we spend a lot of time over there with the distillery and have just have a huge flow for the way they do business.

They've had, they've been really supportive of the products. So for that reason, , that's the country. That's one of the reasons we looked at Japan. Taiwan is outside of Scotland. The biggest whiskey market on the planet, they are geeky above and beyond. They're just whiskey, scotch geeks.

Eric Malzone: [00:20:47] It's

Lisa Clotier: [00:20:48] it's the, it's the coolest alcohol place I've ever been like.

They're so into it. Every Brian taught seminars, every single one and was sold out standing room only we did everything via translation. It was, it was absolutely amazing. Our distributor there is phenomenal, but they're just. They have a passionate about whiskey. That's completely, it's just unlike anything we've ever seen.

And South Africa. Yeah. Yeah. It's super, it's just a really cool spot in the world in South Africa. , that's came from, you know, I have a long passion and studies and African studies, but the state of Montana has really been actively working with South Africa. I'm bringing Montana products to South Africa and we're excited to cannons from the state of Montana has been kind of heading that up.

And we're really excited to continue on that venture and then discuss, , I'm on the national craft advisory board with them. And we did a trip to South Africa with discuss. In what not last year, the year before I keep getting mixed up how this whole last year is a little blurry, but this year, so the year before, and yeah, I think there's a, it's definitely an emerging market.

And so there's some different funding on a national grant scale for that, that we'll look at. So yeah, South Africa, it looks good. And then Australia has just been, , it's just an interesting market. They're kind of seeking out unique products and that kind of made sense to us Europe at this point with all the terror fours.

It's just too vital or insane with trying to both of those markets are too up and down on a international scale for somebody our size to be playing in that game right now, because the tariffs can literally, we could have a container of alcohol going over and the tariffs could pop in and change the game without us having any control over it.

So the four countries we've picked are good, safe bets for our size of distillery.

Eric Malzone: [00:22:27] Have you seen the docentary scotch?

Didn't they highlight Taiwan in there as well. Like that was a hot, yeah,

Lisa Clotier: [00:22:36] it's not scotch thing. It's, it's incredible. Like we were at whiskey Fest last year in December, I guess. And I mean, it's packed to the gills and there's bottles. I mean, we were with two distillers that don't one of them, one's a distiller in the others, their brand ambassador for a different distillery in Scotland.

And they were like, some of these products were never even released in our country. Like people, they bring their specialties down and I mean, it was, it's pretty crazy. Yeah. There,

Eric Malzone: [00:23:02] you know, it was interesting about that docentary not to get too sidetracked was that. It was, there was so much cost and margin put in.

If you buy scotch in Scotland, that it was actually cheaper to get it outside of the country, you know, you couldn't get it in the distance, in the distillery. , you know, at the same cost you could in like the United States or somewhere else, it was really fascinating to me about how, how the. Country or wherever you are really dictates the pricing for these products.

And imagine you're learning at a very fast rate about, you know, some of these, , international, , pricing strategies, right?

Lisa Clotier: [00:23:39] Super fascinating. I mean, even when you're in Japan and you're trying to buy Japanese whiskey, we found it was I'm like we had much better deals when we went to Vietnam, which we know are hand carried likely over, or when we were in Taiwan, it's, it's very bizarre how that the whole international pricing structure works in Y you know, we'll look at our products and I'm like, cause you know, the, it's not like we're going in at a certain tax rate.

Like what the whiskey is, what the rs taxed at and what the gen, there are three different. Very very different tax rates versus for us, the r we're finding is a rough one for both Taiwan and for Australia because of sugarcane and how that, , you know, how the sugar trades on the international market.

So those two are tax much higher than our whiskeys or gins. So yeah, every market's very different on how your import or your export taxes

Eric Malzone: [00:24:28] and at least it sounds like you've done. You guys do a lot of traveling. , and you mentioned earlier in the show that. You do it for business? Which business is it?

That's driving all this international travel or is it, or is it mostly just for,

Lisa Clotier: [00:24:39] sorry.

Sorry. It's right where my cheekbone is on my phone. , so Brian and I definitely had done a lot of traveling to culinary hotspots across the globe before, but the last five to seven years has been all focused on the distillery. So we've traveled sometimes on our own, but a lot of times with, like I said, the USDA.

And which the United States department of agriculture, I'm assing everybody, I don't know. You never know. And then discuss, which is the distilled spirits council of America. So those are the two groups that we've done a lot of traveling with as well as some of the Montana department of commerce and international, their international export team.

So we've kind of reached out and those are the groups that we travel with. , They're really instrental in setting things up when we're in country with distributors, with meetings and so forth. And so, yeah, we've, we've been trying to pop around and spread the love of Montana spirits.

Eric Malzone: [00:25:32] Yeah, that's fantastic.

I appreciate it. You know, I've I joked, but it's not really a joke. , I've really taken COVID as an opportunity to increase my bourbon game and perfect. Yeah. Yeah. And I've been learning a lot and it's really, , it's a fascinating world and. , easily. I mean, you know, it's, it's fun on both angles. You get to educate yourself and, you know, you get a nice head change at the end of every day.

, do you, how do you feel about the world is kind of random question. How do you feel about the world of celebrity

Lisa Clotier: [00:26:00] chefs? How do I feel about the world of celebrity chefs? I guess at the end of the day, it has been a very good thing for our industry because I look at it where, when I definitely started in this 20 years ago or 25 geek ads, 25, 26 years ago, Being a chef, wasn't an Admiral position.

It was something that was just, you know, I think it's elevated and hopefully it's given our industry some respect. So a lot of these people that have gotten out there, I mean, not everybody's great. Some of them are a little cheesy, but that's just their, you know, that's how they're getting their point or their process or whatever cross.

I think if somebody like answering between who has probably been incredibly inspirational to so many of us that, you know, it's that work hard, play hard. And then at the end of the day, are you doing good for your community and how are you giving back? And so I think at the end of the day, they're a good thing.

And I I'm sure there's a lot of people out there. We could probably argue that to, with my chef buddies to the end of the day, but I think most of us respect, respect people for what their craft is. And however, they got there to a position where they're quote unquote, a celebrity chef. You know, good on them.

You're spreading the word that we're working hard. We believe in the food that we're putting out and the process and this whole lifestyle is being a restaurant being in a restaurant.

Eric Malzone: [00:27:15] Anthony Bordain is one of my favorite. I mean, if you know, people ask you that question, if you could sit at a table and you get out of five people from, you know, any time he'd be at my table, , he's definitely at my table.

And you know, I've watched all of his episodes of, you know, parts that I've known and. All the shows. , and I read his books. He's still an

Lisa Clotier: [00:27:35] inspiration to me, so inspirational. I mean, every single time we're getting ready to go back to Japan or Taiwan or South or any literally any place I always am poppy and rewatching his reruns to be like, Oh, I need to check that out.

Or, you know, a lot of times it's just a little snippet that he's walking by and he's like, Oh, remember this ramen shop? And I'm like, Oh, I have to go check that. So I think he's been an inspiration to so many of us that love to travel. For food or, you know, and having food being focused on it. Yeah,

Eric Malzone: [00:28:03] yeah, yeah.

Yeah. It's really cool. And it's, you know, ultimately the messaging is, you know, food kind of connects to everybody, right? We all eat and it has such a, it has such a, it's an easy way into middle ground and understanding and investigating new cultures. And, , you did a great job. Putting that together for us and storylines.

Lisa Clotier: [00:28:24] Oh yeah. Or that we see them, you know, the, the basis of it too, it's not walking in with a, you know, a white tablecloth in some of the best service and some of the best chefs in the world. It's also that little food stall in the market where somebody has been grinding seven days a week for 15 years doing the same thing over and over.

And they just happened to make. You know, the best in the world of something. So that little, I mean, one of the little teeny places he talked about years ago, it was this tiny little Michelin star dped like two or three star Michelin dpling shop in little teeny neighborhood, Japan or Tokyo, sorry. And to this day we go back every single time we're there and every single time I'm there, they blow me off.

I mean, it just blows my mind and I walk out paying $25 for some of the coolest food I've had in months.

Eric Malzone: [00:29:07] I love it. Yeah. It's a. Japan was where I was supposed to be. Actually this month, we are going to go to Japan in November of this year, and then everything kind of shut down. So I guess we'll have to wait another year, but I'm dying.

Lisa, I'm dying that Japan, , now the culture, but the skiing skiing is amazing there. The skiing,

Lisa Clotier: [00:29:25] I know the skiing is amazing. We spent, , three weeks almost the whole month of November there last year, everyday on Facebook, it keeps popping up and I'm like, Oh my gosh. Ah, yeah, we did. We spent November.

Japan, Lester rented a car and brought friends. My husband's mom with us, and literally just road tripped across the country. And it was amazing. It's such a fascinating, like there's so many places I want to go back and spend time at.

Eric Malzone: [00:29:48] Okay. Well now I know now I know who to go to. When we start planning our trip.

You're you're the one, , shifting gears a little bit. I, I, there was something that we talked about pre recording, Lisa, and, , I think it's really important messaging for people to have. And we talked about, you know, during these times, especially as business owners and entrepreneurs, , Yeah, and God, I'm so tired of using these words, but having to pivot and shift and do all the things we've had to do, right.

Just to survive and hopefully set ourselves up to thrive. , in the, the other word I hate is the new normal, , and whatever whatever's happening right now, right. You know, is, is self care. And as you put, , giving yourself some grace, , expand on that, what is, what are some of the realizations you've had as far as, Hey, you know, take it easy on

Lisa Clotier: [00:30:31] yourself.

I think for me and I, you know, I definitely ebb and flow on how that works in my life is, you know, sometimes it's, I ha I do. I make the time for the meditation, the yoga, you know, getting up in the morning, listening to Elliot's mindset. Like that's a phenomenal way to start your day. There's these different, you know, there's these amazing people out there that are good.

10, 15 minutes. Can change your day. And I'm finding that a lot of times I get into a horrible habit of just waking up with my mind going, like, I need to go, go, go, go, go. What about this? What about that? And taking some time to stop, you know, having a cup of coffee with my husband in the morning, watching the dog run around, we just, , procured four dwarf, Nigerian dwarf goats.

And so that's, I mean, kind of part of my new morning routine is taking the goats for a walk and everybody's like, what do they do? And I'm like, they just bring me joy. I love them. I've never had a farmyard, you know, I've never had, we have eight chickens and four goats. Now this was all within the last, you know, three, four months.

And so taking the time to slow down instead of, you know, staying late at work last night, I'm like, Oh, I need to get home before it's dark out. So I'm not out there by myself, the grizzly bears and mountain lions and feed the goats and let the chickens out and do my little thing. So taking some time to do things that make ourselves happier and giving ourselves the grace to do that and not having that guilt.

That we're not doing enough or we're not working hard enough and maybe it was just time for us all to slow down. Our industry is so go, go, go, go, go as are a lot of other peoples. And I think taking that time to be like, everything's going to be there tomorrow.

Eric Malzone: [00:32:01] Yeah. Yeah. That's a great point. So two follow-up questions on that.

Nber one, one, where does someone find a Nigerian dwarf

Lisa Clotier: [00:32:08] coat? Well, I found mine on Craigslist from an, I don't know if you know, Nikki, she runs the glacier or the Oh, glacier park Conservancy and then yeah, yeah, yeah, I do. Okay. So, you know, Nicky and Carl and poor Carl did not know that, , the goats, the, they have 21 other goats.

So these four goats, these four boys were on the Craigslist. I was like, Hmm. That looks like Carlos, , Cadillac. Did he deliver beer? And so I sent him a text and he's like, I didn't know, the boys were for sale. And I'm like, they're not, she's giving them away. So we, yeah, I talked to Nikki and she just wanted to make sure these four had a really good home and hopefully we've given them, given them a great home and we love them to death.

And so, yeah, they drove, we drove up and picked up the four goats and now they live here with us.

Eric Malzone: [00:32:53] That's awesome. , second question was, what if you could paint your, your ideal morning. How you would start your day? What does that look like?

Lisa Clotier: [00:33:03] If I could, , I wouldn't be up before this. I would I wake before the sun and take the time to meditate and then go into a good long hour, long yoga practice and then some super dank coffee.

And then off to work, maybe a little goat walk. If I have time in the morning, it's not, I'll come back and do that in the afternoon, but definitely, you know, starting with, and I'm still after, I don't know, 30 years of trying to meditate. I'm still a 15, 20 minute max before my mind starts wandering just maybe who I am, but starting out with meditation, going into yoga, having some great coffee and then starting my day.

Eric Malzone: [00:33:38] When you say super dang coffee, is that a brand or is that just for the coffee?

Lisa Clotier: [00:33:43] No, I'm actually, I don't, that's what I was just drinking again. This morning. There's a coffee roaster. We use field heads at all the restaurants, but there's a coffee roaster. A friend of ours sent us from DOMA and they have a.

Coffee cup or a blend called super dank. So a bunch of us will kind of got into it. It's a little high-octane for start your morning. Pretty good. Yeah.

Eric Malzone: [00:34:01] Oh, I like it.

Lisa Clotier: [00:34:02] Yeah.

Eric Malzone: [00:34:04] Offy in the morning.

Lisa Clotier: [00:34:05] Yeah. So super banquet. Super next to super strong coffee to start your day with.

Eric Malzone: [00:34:09] Yeah. I find that an open schedule in the morning after I kind of do my morning routine, , and some really strong coffee for about two to three hours, I can accomplish more in two to three hours and most people can accomplish all day, , with the right caffeine buzz.

Lisa Clotier: [00:34:21] Yeah, the caffeine and probably one of my game changers. Oh, and this was a bad baby bath water deals. I met Dan Clark. He has a brain. Have you heard of brain FM? No. So brain Sam is a, it's an app. Musical deal that focus, sleep creative, different, you know, different genres. What you're trying to do for me, putting that on with my headphones after some coffee in an hour.

I'm literally finding that, like I'm whipping through something that should have been three hours or used to be three hours is now taking an hour. Cause I'm that focused on it. So that's kind of been my big, game-changers kind of looking at my day and being like, okay, how can I get three or four hour long brain offense sessions in?

And then at the end of, after that, I've kind of done what I really had to do for the day and everything else. Maintaining.

Eric Malzone: [00:35:07] Interesting. So, , And you said it's brain.fm?

Lisa Clotier: [00:35:10] , yep. Yeah, brain.brain.fm. Okay, cool.

Eric Malzone: [00:35:14] So right now, you know, it's November 10th, 2020. , the election is supposedly done. Thank God. , we'll see, , But we're heading into, you know, the holidays.

, and then we're all hoping for a very fresh and start to a positive 20, 21, right? When you look at all the businesses that you have and everything you're going through right now, and, , in managing what what's the biggest need that you have right now within your business or

Lisa Clotier: [00:35:43] businesses. Businesses, I think right now, , I feel like I'm putting together a really neat team for the restaurants and it's going to take me three or four months to get everybody kind of cultivated where we want to be and build that culture.

But I feel like I'm really going in the right direction there. So I'm pretty, pretty happy with where I'm at with the restaurants in the hotels, as far as how we're going to be looking for 2021, the distillery. At this point, we just had a really neat guy up last week to interview for a couple of days to try to really grow the product across the country.

And then probably my biggest challenge is wrapping my head around how much of the e-commerce online data, that part of the business, that online e-commerce side, how much do I need to know to make sure that I'm hiring and getting the right people in place? We have a PR firm that I know is excellent.

We're using an online distribution group, which I think is excellent this point, but I know there's so much more to it. So by probably my biggest thing is. Figuring out how much education do I need to have on the e-commerce side of this whole pitch versus how much do I just need to understand and hire the right people?

Because I feel like there's a lot out there. And a lot of times I'm like, wait, are we split testing? Or what does the data mean? What does, you know, there's so many terms and words and the whole thing. I'm trying to make sure that I'm up enough on it. But I don't want to dive down the rabbit hole. It's just, I know that's not going to be my forte.

So that's probably my biggest need right now is understanding the e-commerce side of the distillery.

Eric Malzone: [00:37:09] Yeah. And that's, that's an interesting thing as a leader and a founder of a business like this is, you know, you want to know enough to make an educated decision on who do you work with, but you don't want to go down that rabbit hole because your time is better spent somewhere else.

Right. ,

Lisa Clotier: [00:37:23] and it takes a long time. It takes you so long. I think for me, it took me so long to get to that point where hire people that are better than you at this, at this and this and this. So, versus I think I spent my first, you know, a good 20 years being like, I have to be the best at this before, you know, I have to train everybody.

I have to teach everybody. And now I'm realizing no there's people out there that. That's what they do. They really, really, you know, they do an excellent job at it. So I think giving your, you know, letting yourself realize as an entrepreneur, that you're not going to be the best at every single part of your business.

There's other people that are better at the financial part are better at the, you know, long as you have the creative and the culture drive behind you. I think you're going to be okay.

Eric Malzone: [00:38:03] And the beauty of that. Mindset going into it is, it actually takes a lot of pressure off too. And it allows you to be, , you know, one of, , you know, pre in another podcast on another show I have, , Josh Hillis said, you know, in written reference to the fitness and health industry is like, just remember that you're probably only better your clients in one, at one or two things.

And that they're better at everything else. And we take that mindset. First of all, it made me laugh.

Lisa Clotier: [00:38:27] Yeah, I suppose that's fantastic.

Eric Malzone: [00:38:29] True. And if you go out like that, you're also just much more fun to be around and, , you know, where your strengths are. And that's one of the things that the leader is you have to really know what your strengths are and then know where your weak points are and where your blind spots are and, and, , and hire appropriately.

So, yeah. , Well, Lisa it's, it's an absolute pleasure having you show, I mean, so much business experience and, , you've earned it the hard way through much of it too. And you know, I love kind of the, the book of business you put together and, you know, for people who are listening, if they want to get in touch with you, maybe they want to talk to you about e-commerce or they think they can offer value to one of your businesses.

Or maybe she gave an interview. You, , where do they go? Where do you send people?

Lisa Clotier: [00:39:08] , the easiest one for me is always my email, which is [email protected]

Eric Malzone: [00:39:14] Awesome. Simple enough. Well, thank you so much for coming on. It's a pleasure. I'm going to go look for a nice bottle of whistling Andy this afternoon and cheers to you. Ladies and gentlemen, Lisa Cloutier

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