Steamboat business turns party drinks into grand production
From their home-based office in Old Town Steamboat Springs, husband and wife Josh Rosenthal and Priscilla Sommer operate a nationally recognized specialty hospitality company that has provided the hippest of service for thousands of parties across the country.
The Grand Bevy is a creative beverage service company founded by Rosenthal, a former professional actor who is originally from Australia, with the company name stemming from the Aussie nickname “bevvie” for beverage. Sommer, a former actress herself, grew up in Ohio and serves as the chief financial and operating officer. She also manages a contracted staff of some 180 individuals stationed across 14 U.S. cities.
During the past nine years, The Grand Bevy has provided unique, customized drink service for almost 2,000 events. The company earned mentions by The New York Times and Martha Stewart. Rosenthal has appeared on Access Hollywood television spots showing off creative drinks and is scheduled for another appearance to talk about Oscar season parties.
During his acting days in Los Angeles, with a young family to help support, Rosenthal sometimes worked a side gig as staff for catered parties, where he watched guests congregating around the bars. He saw that while parties often focused largely on food, guests spent more time with a cocktail glass in their hands than a fork. He found the normal party drink service was lacking in creativity and efficiency, so his brainchild was to create a grand presentation for the liquid side of events.
In 2013, the budding entrepreneur pitched his concept to a room full of professional party planners in Dallas. He got a bite from one planner, who asked the fee for a customized cocktail service for 400 people at a wedding. Rosenthal quickly asked his bookkeeper wife, “How much do we owe in rent?” That was the price he charged for the first party.
Sommer said the company now has satellite operations with party team locations from Denver to New York City and Chicago to New Orleans. Much of the company’s business still comes from California, Houston and Florida, where pandemic restrictions were never as strict, the couple said. The company books corporate and product launch events, celebrity birthday parties and high-end weddings.
“We don’t sell alcohol. We sell experience,” the couple, in their 40s, said.
The company works with hotel resorts, destination management companies and private clients from Aspen to Greece. The Grand Bevy is starting to book more local events, including an upcoming wedding in Routt County, so Sommer is on the lookout for local mixology talent, too.
The couple moved their family to Steamboat four years ago seeking the smaller town lifestyle in which they could raise their son and daughter, both now in middle school. The family had visited Steamboat on some of their travels, and they say they enjoy the safer, more independent lifestyle for their children in this close-knit community. Sommer also is active as a volunteer parent volleyball coach at Sleeping Giant Middle School.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the hospitality industry hard, including The Grand Bevy with a rollercoaster of parties booked, postponed, canceled and then inquiries ramping up again. In 2019, the company booked 200 parties but only 20 last year, so contracted staff was cut back significantly.
To diversify their business, the couple is focusing more on their patented SipMi offering that prints on edible paper with food-grade ink to transform logos and photos into images on foam-topped cocktails. The company has three models for the SipMi service, including taking guest photos and quickly turning those images into a personalized cocktail. The Grand Bevy is branching out to kick off a quasi-franchise operation of SipMi through a party company in Florida.
The couple is trying to do what they can to reduce waste in a party industry that is “fraught with waste,” Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal is outspoken in environmental and sustainability issues, and talks with leaders about topics ranging from carbon footprints, renewable energy, rivers and bears. The company will not accept clients who want to use plastic service items. The parties do not utilize plastic cups or bottles, forego straws and stirrers, and serve ice water from the tap in glass pitchers.
The cocktail service can be booked per drink or a la carte by bar station at a base price of $3,900. For destination events, the company dispatches a three-person lead team of a head mixologist, bar captain and operations manager.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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