The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

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Page 18 of 108

18 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2016 { technology } Brahm Callahan, MS, uses BinWise to manage inven- tory in the wine room at Grill 23 & Bar in Boston. Always Improving THANKS TO BINWISE, MASTER SOMMELIER BRAHM CALLAHAN MANAGES THE FLOW OF WINE, SPIRITS AND BEER AT ONE OF BOSTON'S MOST SUCCESSFUL RESTAURANT GROUPS by David Gadd / photo by Josh Reynolds BRAHM CALLAHAN IS BEVERAGE DIRECTOR OF HIMMEL Hospitality Group and its three popular Boston area restaurants: Post 390 and Grill 23 & Bar in Boston proper and Harvest in Cambridge. The newly minted Master Sommelier (he passed the Master's Diploma exam last year) was introduced to wine when he worked at a local wine shop The Shelburne Falls Wine Merchant in western Massachusetts, under the mentorship of owner Paul-Thierry de la Blotier. The budding enophile was soon put in charge of running wine tastings, managing the cellar and working on dinners with winemakers and local restaurants. Going on to the University of Massachusetts Amherst and later to graduate school at Boston University, where he earned a Master's degree in classics and ancient history, Callahan kept his wine hand in with jobs as wine steward and sommelier at top restaurants, including Boston's Excelsior and Rialto. In 2009, wine finally edged out academics ("an abrupt left turn," says Callahan) and the scholar-turned-somm joined Himmel Hospitality as part of the opening team of Post 390. This urban tavern feature seasonally-inspired menus, and to match the cuisine Callahan crafted a flexible and ever-changing list that currently contains around 300 skus, in addition to a large craft beer selection on tap and in bottle, and a competitive cocktail program. In 2010, he moved to sister restaurant Grill 23 & Bar, where the "mas- sive" 2,000-sku list is as balanced as it is impressive. It includes four pages of Burgundy, for example, six pages of Bordeaux and ten pages of domestic Cabernet and Cabernet-based blends, including older California vintages from the '60s and '70s. The restaurant was founded in 1983, which helps explain the presence on the list of deep verticals and classic vintages that Callahan likes to highlight for his guests. "With eight wine rooms and a ton of storage—which also means a lot of places where wine can get lost—a strong inventory system is important," says Callahan of Grill 23. That's where BinWise came in. The online beverage management system, co-founded by former som- melier Tony Cha and which Callahan heard about a few years ago from a friend, gives the Beverage Director an in-depth view of inventory and sales, whether he's in the restaurant's wine room or in a cellar in Alsace. "No matter where you are," says Callahan, "if you have an internet con- nection, you can work; you can access your inventory, you can pay bills, you can place orders, you can run all your reporting." Last year, Callahan was appointed Beverage Manager for the entire Himmel Hospitality Group—a promotion that brought new chal- lenges to the Master Sommelier. BinWise was right there with him; one of the advantages of the system is that it is customizable and can be scaled to meet the needs of multiple locations and multiple users. "I'm now running all of our outlets, so putting one inventory sys- tem on all of them was a priority for me," says the Master Somm. "Even though it was a massive upload at first, the inventory was pretty accurate very quickly, and every month it becomes more and more accurate." Callahan is impressed with the attention that the BinWise team pays to its clients (in fact, he had just gotten off a call with them the afternoon we spoke with him by phone). "BinWise had a really great system three or four years ago, but they've actually made it better," says the Beverage Director. "They're developing with their clients' help. They understand that everybody does things a little differently; there's reporting and information that some people want and other people don't want. They do listen to their users. They're only getting better."

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