John “Mike” Fryer – 1949-2020
See more photos from Mike's life at this gallery
On April 28, 2020 we lost a titan of the food & beverage community who was an innovator, visionary and the founder of this publication: Mike Fryer, who passed away after a battle with cancer. Mike was a true champion of the bartenders, chefs, distributors, managers, restaurateurs, servers, suppliers and virtually anyone associated with the industry he loved. He demonstrated this specifically through the creation of this magazine, as he dared to give a voice where none was being previously provided. In this issue we share our voice in honoring a great man of whom virtually everyone who ever met him found a kind soul who sincerely cared for all that had the fortune to come into his presence.
Early Years and Affinity for Food & Beverage
John “Mike” Fryer was born on November 7th, 1949 in Los Angeles, California to Paul and Juanita Fryer. He grew up in the San Francisco Bay area with his two older brothers and a younger sister and graduated from Alhambra High School in Martinez, California in 1967. From early on he had an affinity for the culinary world and briefly attended San Francisco City College’s culinary program before moving to Tokyo, Japan, where he attended Sophia University, receiving degrees in both International Business and Japanese Language. After graduating he explored his business interest in the food and beverage industry, which led him to live and work in Asia for over 30 years, during which time he learned the ins and outs of the restaurant business through several positions and opportunities. Mike worked as a consultant for restaurateurs; opened several restaurants for Denny’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, El Pollo Loco and Jollibee; operated his own import/export business; and opened his own restaurant in Guam, a Mexican eatery called Casa de Fiesta. During this time he also married and raised a family in the Philippines and later in Guam. Mike is survived by his daughter Juanita “Michi” Fryer and son Paul Michael Fryer.
Launching the First Food & Beverage Trade Publication in Southern Nevada
Mike returned to the USA in 2002 and continued his love for the F&B industry. After seeing there was no industry-dedicated publication in Southern Nevada and recognizing a need to be met, he created a trade publication initially named Las Vegas Food & Beverage News, followed by Fork and Pour, which evolved into The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional. Mike purposefully added the word professional to the publication’s name to emphasize the fact that he wished to shine a light on the various professionals of all facets of the food & beverage industry and became the ONLY publisher to do so in Southern Nevada. Over the years Mike became known as THE one who reached out to all in the industry, many of whom were delighted to be recognized when no one else would.
In his role as Senior Editor/Publisher of the magazine, Mike was actively involved in several groups and organizations integral to the food & beverage industry. His long list of associations included being an active Associate Member of the ACF Chefs of Las Vegas and on its Associate Advisory Board for 6 years; sitting on various boards and being a member of the Nevada Restaurant Association, Asian Chamber of Commerce, F&B Directors Association, Japan-American Society of Nevada Las Vegas Chefs and Sommeliers and Destination Services Association; working with the Taste of the Nation fundraiser; and in December, 2019 was invited to join and was accepted into the very prestigious Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
Can you say that in Japanese?
Speaking another language as difficult as Japanese fluently indicates one’s superior intellect, which Mike certainly had. On many occasions I observed Mike finding someone whose first language was Japanese, and always found it amusing and endearing to see how the person’s demeanor and facial expression changed once Mike began speaking in their native tongue. Also, his rather lengthy phone message always included a greeting in Japanese and ended with the words moshi moshi (a traditional phone greeting when receiving a call from friends or family).
Kind, Witty, Sense of Humor, Smile
Reading through all of the memorials that members of the food & beverage industry who knew Mike sent to us, I was struck by four things that virtually all of the writers shared: how Mike was kind to all he encountered; always asked how you and your family were doing; had a quick wit and sense of humor that could be hilarious and at times corny, but always fun; and was always fun to be around as he exuded positivity and a quick smile.
Many Owe Their Writing Careers to Mike Fryer
One of Mike’s best qualities was his willingness to give others an opportunity to spread their journalistic wings by offering a chance to write about the industry he loved and supported. When I first met Mike, I was a fairly green beer writer with only one outlet. After bringing me on as his beer columnist and after a few years upon my request, Mike agreed to let me expand to writing about food (in addition to beer). Without his willingness to give me this break, it is possible I never would have grown as a writer. But it wasn’t just me that he provided this prospect to. Over the years I saw Mike reach out to numerous other new journalists and shared his wisdom and expertise in covering the food & beverage world.
Mike’s Legacy Continues and the Future of His Baby (The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional)
Mike always considered this magazine his 3rd child—his baby—so it is only fitting that we press on in his name to continue to offer a voice to the professionals in the food & beverage industry of Southern Nevada and Southern California. Our team feels honored and commissioned to carry on Mike Fryer’s legacy as I will remain in my role of Editorial Director, Juanita Aiello in her role as Creative Director and we are delighted to share the news that his daughter Juanita “Michi” Fryer has taken on his position as Publisher. We promise to provide the same commitment and love to this magazine that our Founder, Mike Fryer, led us to do so by his example.
What Others Had to Say About Mike
The following is a small sampling of the many condolences and thoughts expressed by those in the food & beverage industry community sent via email and posted on Facebook. Some of the posts have been condensed to conserve space. To view all of the posts in their entirety, visit www.facebook.com/mike.fryer.94.
Mike Fryer was my friend and a great believer and cheerleader for the Las Vegas hospitality industry.
~Michael Severino/Sr. Director of Special Events & Marketing at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Nevada
RIP Mike. You were a great man and you left behind a wonderful legacy.
~Livio Lauro/Sr. Director of Key Accounts at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Nevada
We had the pleasure of working with Mike for many, many years, literally breaking bread together and enjoying his company. He was a staple of the Vegas dining scene, a sweet man with a great knowledge and love for the industry, but he would also always ask about how WE were all doing and truly cared about the answer! He will be missed.
~Alissa Kelly/CEO PR Plus
I just saw Mike in March for our International Women’s Day event at Locale. We spoke of our wonderful memories of Taste of the Nation and our No Kid Hungry efforts, as well as all the amazing things our committee was able to accomplish. Our community is at a huge loss, because of his absence in the world.
~Jennifer LaSala Holley/former Co-chair at Taste of the Nation Las Vegas
Mike was a board member and big supporter of Taste of the Nation/No Kid Hungry. Very nice person and will be missed.
~Carlos Guia/Executive Chef at Aria and Vdara
For me Mike was fair, always kept everyone informed, helped get the word about what all the chefs were doing. He was a great guy, will be missed. RIP.
~Scott Pajak/Executive Chef at Lagasse’s Stadium
In addition to being my boss, Mike was a dear friend with whom I shared many wonderful times with. It’s likely I would not be a food writer if it wasn’t for Mike, who believed in me, and provided me opportunities as well as sharing with me many insights from his wealth of experiences from his decades of working in the food and beverage world.
~Bob Barnes/Editorial Director at The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional
So very sorry. He was such a wonderful man! He will be truly missed.
~Jennifer Bradley/Owner of JB Public Relations
I had the pleasure to have known Mike for several years, a true gentleman, and passionate for his magazine. He will be missed. RIP, Mike. God Bless
~Sergio D. Meza/Executive Chef at Big Dog’s Brewing
Our prayers and deepest condolences. Broken hearted, RIP Mike san!
~Luis de Santos/GM and Managing Partner at Mordeo
Mike was such an incredible person and was always so happy. It was always such a pleasure working with him. He will be so missed. The industry lost a truly wonderful man.
~Kayla Rambo/Las Vegas Community Manager at Yelp
I am so sad to hear this news. My condolences to everyone who had the honor to work with him and his family. It was always a pleasure to talk with him at our beer fests. He was such a champion for the local craft beer scene and the Pink Boots Society. I will miss him.
~Amanda Koeller/Head Brewer at Big Dog’s Brewing
Mike was a wonderful man. We will miss him tremendously.
~Sebastien Silvestri/Chief Executive Officer at Dinex Group
He was a great guy! We will miss him. He’s with God now and in a better place than us…
~Mike Minor/Executive Chef at Border Grill
Mike Fryer was a gentleman and a scholar! He will be missed greatly!
~John Courtney/Chef-Partner at Chop Shop in Park City, UT
So sad to hear. Mike was incredibly charming and very sweet. Will miss him.
~Claudine Grant/Manager Public Relations at The Venetian Casino Resort
Mike was such a great person and did so much to promote and support the food and beverage industry. He will be horribly missed.
~Jean Hertzman/former Associate Professor and Director of Enrollment Management at University of Nevada Las Vegas William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration
Mike was a wonderful person who wholeheartedly welcomed me into The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional family. I'll miss him dearly.
~SK Delph/Journalist at The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional
Always a smile and a happy hello. That was Mike Fryer. Saw him at most every food media event there was over the years, and he was always in a great mood. He will be sadly missed, but always remembered.
~Shelley Stepanek/Journalist at The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional
I am so sorry to learn of Mike’s passing. I worked with him when I first moved to Las Vegas. He was well loved.
My deepest sympathy. Peace ~ Love ~ Prayers.
~Rowe Maravillas-Becknel/former Layout Designer for Fork and Pour
I'm so sorry to hear this news and terribly sorry for your loss and to Mike's family. Mike was an incredible person and I was blessed to have been able to get to know him. RIP Mike.
~Ian Delph/GM at Holsteins Buns
It was always fun running into Mike with his camera and bag of magazines. Real nice guy who cared about his work. He will be missed.
~Robert Kachelriess/Las Vegas Writer at Thrillist
Mike was always so sweet, kind, and complimentary, and so energetic about whatever was going on in the industry. But he also always inquired about your whole being, asked how you were, your family. He was a beautiful gentleman and a professional. I’ll miss hearing from him and bumping into him at events.
~Xania V. Woodman/Bar Manager and Lead Bartender at O.P. Rockwell Cocktail Lounge & Music Hall in Park City, Utah and former Dining, Beverage and Nightlife Editor for Vegas Seven Magazine
Rest in peace, Mike Fryer! What sad news.
~Elizabeth Blau/Founder CEO of Blau + Associates
Mike was a dear friend and dedicated reporter. We shared many memorable times at Caesars.
~Michelle Monson/Las Vegas Communications PR Leader
We were so lucky to know him and work with him and he will definitely be missed. I am so sorry!
~Hillary Smoot/Principal at Red Moon PR
He was such a great guy... very sad. RIP Mike and prayers to his family and friends.
~Mark Lawson/Director of Craft & Import Brands at Nevada Beverage