I remember the first time I met Mike Fryer. I was at my desk and my good friend Michael Severino called me and said, “Come upstairs. I want you to meet somebody.”

When you first met Mike, you were instantly taken in by his warm smile and seemingly limitless enthusiasm. It was that smile—the Cheshire grin of a teenage boy trapped in a grown man’s body—that made him instantly likeable. Without a word you were at ease, like he had a little secret or funny story, and you were in on it. He could command a room with his wit and make a friend in a second with a handshake. 

When I heard of Mike’s passing, I was not only heartbroken that he was gone, but also surprised by how instantly and profoundly sad I felt. We didn’t see each other very often but when we did, he always remembered my name, my wife’s name, and any conversation we had had in the past. He’d ask about your pets (and know them by name) or a trip you had mentioned you were going to take. He remembered things about you that even you had forgotten, and he broached subjects with the ease of a man who really, truly cared. Mike made you feel important, and you genuinely were in his eyes. People were his business and making them feel special was his superpower.

We shared a mutual love of Japan and Japanese culture and Mike—an expert on the subject—was always quick with an insider tip, a great, locals only restaurant, or helpful advice for your next trip. He loved what he did at The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional magazine, and he wanted you to love it too. His ideas, and his passion, were contagious. We would talk about cover story concepts or potential feature articles and he would always know how to take ideas in the right direction. There was never a bad idea for Mike, just one that needed some care and guidance. 

Mike was smart, but he always made you feel smarter. He was kind, and made you want to be kinder. But most of all he was genuine—a rare thing these days—and he made you drop your facades and defenses and unwittingly be more genuine too. And you would take this with you long after the meeting. That was his gift. Mike made you want to be a better person. 

I’m going to miss seeing Mike across a crowded room at events and galas. Searching for—and finding—that smile in a sea of faces. I’m going to miss our talks about travel and food and the world at large. The way he could easily switch from talking to me about a restaurant in Osaka to engaging my wife in a conversation about fashion. It was effortless, authentic and heartfelt. 

I’m fortunate that he was a part of my life and ever thankful that he let me be a part of his. The best way I can honor Mike now is to move forward and try to be more like him. He was one of the good guys.

In a city full of lights, Mike’s light shone just a little bit brighter. Goodbye, my friend.

~ Allan Carter

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Nevada Executive Director of Sales, Fine Wine