Tales of the Cocktail, a Troubled Event, May Have a Savior
The Solomon family has deep roots in local entertainment. Its patriarch, Theodore Solomon, once owned a string of movie theaters across Louisiana, Mississippi and other states. After divesting themselves of that empire, the family members ventured into philanthropy, collaborating extensively with local schools, museums and government.
Solomon Group, an entertainment design firm co-founded by Gary Solomon Jr. in 2009, has worked with Tales for years, assisting on various events, including the annual Spirited Awards, which honor bar professionals.
The Solomons turned to Neal Bodenheimer, the owner of Cure, a prominent New Orleans cocktail bar, for guidance in better understanding the drinks world. “We knew we needed a partner who could bring an industry perspective,” Mr. Solomon said.
Mr. Bodenheimer, whose family has lived in New Orleans since the late 1800s, had been busy searching for a way to keep Tales in the city. “I was very concerned what the loss of Tales would mean to the local community,” he said.
In an email message on Friday, Ms. Tuennerman said she had received inquiries from nearly two dozen parties interested in taking over the event. She would not disclose the dollar amount of the sale, but added: “We did not accept the highest offer. There were other factors that were more important. Paul and I believe that Solomon and Bodenheimer will be the best stewards of the brands and share the same values as us.”
Tales has been criticized for its slowness in responding to social ills that surround the drinks world, such as substance abuse, sexual harassment and assault, and a lack of diversity. Mr. Bodenheimer and Mr. Solomon said they want to change that, and plan to set up a diverse panel of bar and spirits professionals to determine who should receive charitable grants.
“We need to find a way to give bartenders better access to education,” Mr. Bodenheimer said. “We need to take care of attendees. We’re going to work on some of the big issues that face our industry.”
“We want the industry to know what is the future of Tales,” Mr. Solomon said.
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