Meet the Partners: Sharon Olson
Name: Sharon Olson
Business: RCS Strategic
How long have you been in the hospitality industry? Over 30 years
What has been your favorite place to work? I actually have a couple. I loved working at Crave in the Galleria because it was so very different than any other place I had worked. I also loved my 9-1/2 years working in a liquor store. This is the job that really got me into wine.
You’ve trained a lot of front of house staff. What is the most important thing a server or hostess must master to be successful? Sincerity is probably the most difficult. It is difficult working with the public day in and day out so you have to find a way to enjoy it.
So what’s up with your nickname-“the wine geek?” Shortly after starting at the liquor store, people would call to see if the “wine lady” was in. They needed help. This moniker stayed with me for almost ten years. I became a Certified Sommelier in 2007 or 2008. I was and still am very proud of this accomplishment, but it sounds “stuffy.” So, since being a geek is in, I thought that was the perfect way to express my knowledge and have some fun.
I see you are certified as an alcohol awareness trainer. How important is it for a business to have staff trained? It is imperative to do it at least once a year. Serving alcohol day-in and day-out, you can become a little too comfortable, and a reminder is always beneficial. Personally, I think it should be taught at least twice a year, especially if there is high turnover in staff.
So what is a sommelier and what does one do? Sommelier – very difficult to define. It is French but still does not have a great definition. To me it means I study wine, beer, and spirits or the entire adult beverage industry. I need to know a lot about these products so when it comes to educating others, selling, buying I have an understanding of each item. It’s like any other industry you need to know your product inside and out. My products are just a lot of fun.
Do you do private parties? Yes. Until I become a licensed wine educator, I have the clients purchase the wine and then I do pairings, tastings, etiquette classes and more. Recently, I did speak about the wines at the ESABA fundraiser and I did a little blind tasting for a BNI holiday gathering.
You’ve had the chance to sit in on a couple of different FSG classes now. What are your thoughts? I think that this is such a crucial part of the food industry. There is so much to know, and even after taking the exam, I feel like you can always use that reminder.
How can people get in touch with you to learn more?
Sharon is an important part of our TouchPoint Resource Pool, especially in the Food/Beverage, Marketing, Regulatory, Risk Management and Training functions. Click here to view her video bio!