On Andy Jacobs’ Linkedin page, there are a few recommendations below his impressive resume. And the recommendations are equally as impressive.
What jumps out are some of the descriptions used to describe the director of beverage for the Mainstreet Ventures Restaurant Group because they are often used to describe others who work for MVRG. Professional. Detail-orientated. Highly skilled. Exceptionally personal and customer focused.
But the one that really fits perfectly – like a more robust Merlot with a piece of prime rib – is “he is passionate about hospitality management.”
That passion has led him up the restaurant ladder before landing his current job as director of beverages.
Jacobs, who grew up just south of Saline, went to school in Ann Arbor, attending Greenhills before heading down the street to the University of Michigan. “When I was at U-M I studied political science,” he says. “But all through college I was working in the restaurant industry.”
He earned his B.A. in business administration and management and later a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in marketing and administration from the University of Toledo. He earned his “degree” in how to run a restaurant by working in a restaurant.
And his career in the restaurant business didn’t exactly begin in a management position.
“My first job was as a host and bussing tables at a now defunct Ann Arbor restaurant called Arriba,” he says. “After a couple months I was promoted to a bartender and then the restaurant closed.”
Prince wanted to party like it was 1999 while Jacobs went to work in 1999, taking his first job with Mainstreet Ventures at Real Seafood. Mainstreet Ventures Restaurant Group includes such longtime and popular Ann Arbor staples such as The Chop House, Real Seafood Co., Carson’s, Palio and Gratzi.
And like many who take their first job with Mainstreet Ventures, they either never leave or someday return – Jacobs has never left.
In May 2007, he was named dining room manager with Real Seafood Co. and served in that position for over two years. After a total of 10 years at Real Seafood, he took a similar position at Carson’s American Bistro.
In January 2010, Jacobs was named executive assistant dining room manager and later general manager at Palio. And for six years, from 2013-2019, Jacobs was general manager at Gratzi.
In May 2019, he was promoted to director of beverage for Mainstreet Ventures Restaurant Group and has been mixing it up ever since.
“I am the beverage director for all 18 Mainstreet restaurants,” he says. “There are many functions that go with that but the most important is to maintain our beverage menus and create dynamic cocktail and wine lists. I want to make sure we have a good mix of cutting-edge products.”
Jacobs says there is a balance to be walked (or served) when it comes to keeping people’s favorite beverages around while at the same time offering something new and different.
“You don’t want to change just for change but you also don’t want things to stagnate,” he says. “We don’t have scheduled changes. We just try to continuously improve our lists and meet with our suppliers and check out new products and explore new relationships.”
When it comes to The Chop House and Real Seafood Co., they follow the old adage of white wine with fish and red wine with meat but there is so much more to it than that for Jacobs.
“Chop House is red heavy and Real Seafood is more white, but we go beyond that because we want to give choices and provide a list of different styles at each restaurant,” he says.
Mainstreet Ventures Restaurant Group also likes to promote and highlight local beverages.
“Michigan is a fantastic beer state,” Jacobs says. “I think we are the No. 1 beer state in the country. We have very close relationships with several Michigan breweries.”
For example, Mainstreet works with Founders Brewing Co., a popular Michigan beer that opened its first brewery in downtown Grand Rapids in 1997.
“So our restaurants in Florida and West Virginia and Ohio pour Founders Brewing Co. beer,” Jacobs says. “We love the product and they have been great partners of ours.”
Mainstreet restaurants also serve other Michigan beers including Shorts, Bells and New Holland to name a few.
“We love the Michigan beers,” Jacobs says. “And we also work with a number of excellent Michigan wine makers. And our wine lists also include the big players as well from California and France and Italy.”