Tales of the Cocktail will be under new management next year. Today, Ann and Paul Tuennerman announced that they have signed a letter of intent formalizing their intent to sell Tales parent company, MOJO911 to an investor group comprised of New Orleans locals Gary Solomon Jr., the Solomon family, and Neal Bodenheimer. The new ownership immediately stated that the entire company will be restructured as a not-for-profit.
“We are very excited to step in and save an event that is so critical to what we do as professionals,” stated Bodenheimer. “People from all around the world attend Tales of the Cocktail. The Solomon family and I want to keep it alive for years to come–not only for the city of New Orleans, but for the industry as well. It’s our time as spirits and cocktail enthusiasts to all come together in one place and learn from one another.”
Gary Solomon Jr. helms NOLA based A/V and production giant, the Solomon Group. The Solomon family are well known entrepreneurs and philanthropists based out of Louisiana. Neal Bodenheimer is founder and owner of the James Beard nominated Cure.
“We intend to build on the foundation of this world-class event and to breathe new life into Tales of the Cocktail by making it more experiential and attracting a wider audience of industry professionals to join us in New Orleans.,” said Solomon. “This event is vital to the city’s tourism industry, and losing it would have dealt a significant blow to the New Orleans community.”
As previously reported by Neat Pour, the Solomon bid beat out a second New Orleans based group, as well as cocktail website liquor.com. Liquor.com was reported to be the lowest bid and both of the two losing offers planned to run the event as a for-profit business according to sources. The final financials were not disclosed.
The Tales drama began with outcry over the behavior of the husband and wife owners of the Tales organization earlier this year. The Tuennermans wore black face as part of a Mardi Gras parade tradition, and Paul made racially insensitive remarks on social media just a few months before their annual summer cocktail festival. The fallout was swift, with Paul Tuennerman resigning, and Ann Tuennerman doing damage control to resuscitate Tales of the Cocktail‘s reputation and relationships with large corporate sponsors.
After the controversy, many minority members of the bar community reached out to Tales in an attempt to create some positive impact from the founders’ mistakes. Memorably, Tuennerman discussed diversity issues with bar consultant Ashtin Berry during a Facebook Live session garnered over 10k views. Ideas and programs were proposed to do more to educate and communicate to the bar community ways it can be more inclusive of minority voices and needs, resulting in the creation of the Diversity Council. However, after Ann announced Paul’s return to Tales, Council Co-chair Colin Asare-appiah resigned in protest and other Council members told Neat Pour that they intended to follow suit. 24 hours after NP reported the controversy, both Tuennerman announced their resignation from the organization. Shortly after, the couple announced their intention to sell the company.