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Garrick Lumsden: The Company's Pride at Acadiana

Posted by on in August 2014 Editions
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One might describe Garrick Lumsden, bar manager at the Passion Food Restaurant Group's popular Acadiana eatery, as a "company man."  Sure enough, he started in the hospitality business in the late 1980s on the corporate side, serving first as a corporate trainer for the Houston's restaurant chain.  After five years in that position, he moved over to the P.F. Chang's chain to serve in that same capacity.  

In those early years, he stuck close to his home market of Chicago.  "I did some traveling and opened up a few restaurants," he recalled, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "I got tired of Chicago and decided to move to New York City.  But I stopped in D.C. for a year and fell in love with it.  I never made it to New York!"

But the Windy City didn't completely leave Lumsden's being.  He served as pointman in opening Michael Jordan's restaurant in Washington when No. 23 played for the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s.  Bartending was always a passion, though, and he eventually found his way to Passion Food.  He worked behind the taps at the company's Ceiba for a couple of years before trying his hand at the sales side of the business, working for Washington Wholesale.  He found that it wasn't for him and decided to go back to bartending at Passion's Acadiana just prior to briefly opening his own restaurant called Toyland around 2010.  He eventually sold the business and returned to Acadiana as bar manager.

"I just like the socialization of bartending!" he stated.  "You're able to socialize while also making good money.  That and bartending is what I'm good at. It always calls me back."

Lumsden continued, "Acadiana is a Lousiana fish house.  It's definitely seafood-driven, but we're also known as a large bourbon bar.  We have anywhere from 65 to 70 bourbons.  There is also a whole list of specialty cocktails and frozen drinks for people who like their Hurricanes and things like that.  We also have an extensive wine list, although we only deal with French and American wines right now.  We want to be authentic to what Louisiana cuisine is all about."

He has developed several cocktails on the current menu.  One of his favorite things is to mix FEW Spirits into his recipes.  "We have a specialty cocktail with FEW's Breckinridge bourbon.  It's a very refreshing drink for the spring and summertime.  I love it because it's not overpowering.  It's something you can sip on our beautiful patio.  FEW also just introduced a Barrel-Aged Gin, which is really starting to pick up at the restaurant in terms of sales.  We've been doing our part to educate the guests about it because it's a gin. But it's barrel-aged so it has a smokier taste to it.  People are getting into it.  A lot of people are scared of bourbon.  But if you're a gin drinker, it's a good segue way to a brown spirit."

As much as he loves the socializing, he concedes that the people side of his job can be tricky.  "People are always challenging," he said through gritted teeth.  "There's the whole 'the customer is always right.'  That's a challenging thing for me personally, because ... uh ... the customer is NOT always right!  With reality TV, it seems that people feel entitled to say or do anything they want now. "

At the same time, the people side is what he thinks today's bars and restaurants need to get better at.  "When I was in corporate training," he recalled, "I think I came into the business at a good time when corporations were really instilling teamwork.  Nowadays, there are so many restaurants, that people don't get as good of training anymore."

Lumsden concluded, "I think smaller places can take a page from the big companies in that they should take more time in their training.  In many cases, I think that they just throw people out there and they don't take the time to actually get to know what their market is and what they are planning to do in their establishment.  That can be a killer, especially in the beginning.  If you open up, and your staff isn't adequate and they're not doing what they are supposed to do, people are not going to come back.  You don't want to start off like that.  As far as corporations, I think some of them need to be less structured and picky about things.  Those days have changed, and you have to adapt.  People are not robots."

BORN AND RAISED IN: Chicago

WHAT HE DOES IN HIS FREE TIME
"I work out five or six times a week.  I love to run outdoors.  I really like to run by the Capitol and the various monuments."

HIDDEN TALENT: "I love to sing ... but I can't sing a lick!"

JOB HE WOULD LOVE TO HAVE TRIED: Movie director

FAVORITE D.C. TOURIST SPOT: Busboys and Poets.

PERSON HE'D MOST LIKE TO SERVE A DRINK TO: First Lady Michelle Obama.

 

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Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing duties, he is an entertainment reviewer.