Armando Dawdy

Wine Director at Brenner’s on the Bayou

Armando Dawdy was born on November 16, 1962 in Houston Texas. Armando has been married to Francesca Avonda Dawdy since June 6, 2002. Together they have two sons, Liam and Connor. Armando graduated from the University of Houston in 1986. Armando is currently a Wine Director at Brenner’s on the Bayou since August of 2009 to present. He was formally a general manager at the Pesce Restaurant, a Wine Director at Tony’s Restaurant and a Bar and Grill Manager at the Ritz-Carlton.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

It started when I was working at the Ritz-Carlton in Houston, and the sommelier there got transferred to the Ritz-Carlton in New York. There was an opening, and I had a passion for wine. So, they sent me on a two week crash course back then. After that I wanted to get involved.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Once I get to work, I usually order the wines that I need for the upcoming events or parties or weddings, and then I have someone stock the line. I go by, and I make sure that all the wine is stocked in the proper way. Then I always have little meetings with the staff to ensure that they know what’s going on that day with the wine, and it’s productive because the waiters are much more knowledgeable about the wine and how to sell it.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I try to pair a wine every day with the specials that we have at the restaurant, and I try and do small wine tastings with the staff for them to be better informed about the wine. They know how it tastes, whether it’s dry or sweet or red or white or whatever it might be that day.

What’s one trend that excites you?

So, the trend that excites me right now is we like to sell champagne. We’re a special occasion restaurant, so whether it’s a birthday or an anniversary or a business closing, it’s always fun to introduce people to champagne.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I try to take 15 or 20 minutes every day to read something about wines and wine trends and what’s upcoming in the wine industry.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To be patient and to realize that you can’t learn everything at once. It’s like an algebra problem. It takes a long time to solve.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

That champagne goes with everything. You can drink rosé champagne with steaks. You can drink Blanc de Blanc champagne with any seafood. I think champagne goes well with everything. Some people think it’s a risk. Red wine with meat and white wine with fish.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I’m constantly tasting wines. If I’ve had a wine that’s been open a couple days, I’d like to taste a little bit of it to make sure that it’s still of quality to serve to my customer that day, to make sure that it’s not past its prime. I would never want one of my customers to get a bad glass or wine or a bad bottle.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Offering an expansive wine-by-the-glass list that gives customers a chance to try many different wines by the glass instead of having to buy the bottle.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

We had a cooler at one time in another restaurant that didn’t keep the wines at the proper temperature. They were always a little too warm, and it took us a while to figure out why the wines weren’t keeping as long. They weren’t coming out tasting the way we wanted them to taste. So, we finally made some additions and some changes to the cooling system which enabled us to keep the wines at a proper temperature and now being served the way that we really would like them to be served.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

How about to always be open to trying new types of wines? That there are emerging markets like, let’s just say Greece or Argentina where really quality wines are made. That you should give every one of them a shot. You should try everything.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I bought a Coravin system which allows me to keep the wines longer and it’s been quite beneficial.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We don’t use a lot of software when it comes to the wine industry, just use simple web applications like Google Drive to share information between my staff. I guess Gmail can count too, I use it for communicating with clients and planning out future events.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

There are so many books that cover all aspects of the wine industry, the one that I would recommend is the Wine Folly by Madeline Puckette. Everything that you want to know or have questions about you can find in it’s pages.

What is your favorite quote?

A quote from Winston Churchill, he said, “I have a bottle of champagne every day, except on the days that I feel ill. On those days I have two.”

Key Learnings:

  • Be patient and realize that you can’t learn everything at once.
  • Communicate with your staff and be transparent.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new.