Tales of the Cocktail is finally moving on. The new leadership team comprised of New Orleans locals Gary Solomon Jr., the Solomon family, and Neal Bodenheimer announced that they have officially taken control of the organization as first reported by The New Orleans Advocate. In addition, the group named named Caroline Nabors Rosen as Executive Director.
Rosen previously worked as Executive Director of the John Besh Foundation. Rosen left the Besh Foundation shortly before Brett Anderson’s paradigm shifting exposé alleging rampant sexual harassment within Besh’s sprawling hospitality empire. Prior to the Besh job, Rosen spent five and a half years as Director of Sponsorship and Marketing for Mountain Valley Spring according to her LinkedIn profile. Mountain Valley Spring, a bottled water company, was a long time partner of Tales.
The new ownership stated that the entire organization 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,” previously 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 and a partner in Cane & Table.
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.