Photo Credit: Alice Swift - Photo Credit: Bertani Wine Tasting (October 28, 2014): Mike Fryer, Chef Mimmo Ferraro, and Andrea Lonardi

Another month, another slow and steady climb back towards what will become our “new normal.” During this time, people have been maintaining social distancing, with so many restaurants, hotels, and businesses across the United States closed. 

Aside from the obvious halt COVID-19 has placed on the F&B and hospitality industry, another huge loss is the lack of ability to gather (whether small or large) for special occasions. Unfortunately, with that, comes the missed opportunity to gather with your friends and loved ones “just because.” 

On April 28, 2020, Mike Fryer, founder, publisher and senior editor of The Las Vegas and SoCal F&B Professional passed. After hearing the sad news, I took some time to reflect and remember my memories of Mike. To be honest, we hadn’t seen each other in a number of years. Opportunities just never seemed to work out, and even less so after my move to Hawaiʻi in 2016. However, I am forever grateful to Mike for giving me the opportunity to have my own magazine column in the Las Vegas (and later the SoCal) Food & Beverage Professional since 2011. 

A Chance Encounter: When I first met Mike

It was July, 2011, and I had just moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles. I was working part-time for the Double Helix Wine Bar & Boutique (since closed), and they were holding a grand opening of their second location at Town Square Las Vegas, called the Double Helix Wine & Whiskey Lounge (http://www.doublehelixwine.com). 

Since I was new to the town, I thought I would go check it out. While there, I was able to meet a few F&B aficionados sitting at the bar. One person in particular was sharing about his experiences schooling and living in Japan, and we were chatting about my ethnic background (Taiwanese). By chance, I had shared my enthusiasm for wine/beverage education, and this gentleman excitedly told me about this unique magazine that is all about F&B, but is the only publication in the Vegas area catered to industry professionals. He proceeded to invite me to write a monthly wine/beverage-focused topic for the magazine, and even gave me freedom to name it whatever I wanted, given that it would be my very own column. 

Fun fact! Mike is fluent in Japanese as his second language, which was quite impressive and definitely a conversation starter during social events. 

Yes, later in the conversation and over the years, I discovered that that man was Mike Fryer, a kind-hearted, fun-loving, genuine person who had a true passion for food and beverage. Fast forward to 2020, it’s now been 9 years since writing my inaugural “Wine Talk” column for the magazine, and have since progressed to the role of Assistant Editor. It’s funny, because although we technically never got together for leisure, and mostly met up during various F&B events, we slowly got to know each other over the years. Funny enough, since we always met at events, and I was writing and taking photos, I don’t think we ever even got a photo together! But, since I was always playing “photographer” if we were together, I did catch a few of him having a blast. During my last trip to Las Vegas in 2019, I had hoped to see Mike, but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. 

Mike, you are indeed a genuine hospitality professional loved by many, with a true passion for food and beverage. I am grateful for your friendship and you will be missed, and never forgotten. 

May you rest in peace, my friend. 

Until next month, ~Cheers

Alic