Service Mavens

ABV team Winning Barfight at Tales

December 22, 2017

Episode 3: Ryan Fitzgerald

I’m so excited that we got Ryan on the podcast.  You may’ve heard of Ryan, he owns ABV with his two partners Erik Reichborn-Kjennerud  and Todd Smith. They each have extensive careers in the industry and together on ABV they have been recognized as one of the Worlds 50 Best Bars.

More than best bar, they’ve won best American bar team 2016, best new American cocktail bar 2015, and Ryan is most proud of winning the “bar fight” which was the last pop-up bar contest at tales of the cocktail in 2015.

Ryan has been through the gauntlet to get to this point. From hosting at Red Robin and Chevy’s, working at Applebees, Fresh Choice, and Soup Plantation, he’s been in the industry since he was 14.

He gave the 9-5 life a shot and decided that the crushing boredom was not for him! He mentions a ton of people in this episode, please forgive me if I don't link everything! He is an example of a success story. If you’re around 16th and Valencia go check out ABV. They have a pop up bar upstairs running until February 2018 called Overproof. I went for the whiskey saloon (Double Back) and it was amazing. Now they are doing tequila and mescal (Lágrimas) which is his specialty!

This is a shorter episode so I’m not breaking it up, Please Enjoy here: 


Or on Apple Podcasts

Links to everything: 

Ryan's Instagram

Ryan's Facebook

Videos for transformation of Overproof to Double Back & to Lágrimas

Foreign Cinema

Tres (formerly Tres Agaves)

Beretta SF

Erik Castro - Bartender at large

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Larry Piaskowy pouring behind the bar

December 08, 2017

Episode 2: Larry Piaskowy

Larry Piaskowy is currently behind the stick at the San Francisco Proper Hotel. GO SEE HIM!

I can't remember the last time I laughed this much with someone I don't know! Larry is the consummate bar personality and his energy is infectious.  I can see why regulars follow him everywhere he goes because he is the life of the party!

He started out in the kitchen, making his way from Chicago and has been through the gauntlet to get to where he is now. 

We connect on some hilarious stories - The ice story you can find as it's own segment, which is awesome. 

You’ll want to listen to this entire conversation because You can truly feel his passion come through and he drops some wisdom down for people in and out of service industries.

This episode was recorded at the Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company so there may be some background noise etc. 

Listen to it right here


or on Apple Podcasts just search service mavens (We will have a subscribe link soon) click more episodes at the top of the player to listen to more! 

Thank You for listening and enjoy the show!

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Justin Goo Looking suited up before a wedding

October 06, 2017

Service Mavens Episode 1: Justin Goo

My first guest is Justin Goo. Justin is the GM and Bartender at Bourbon and Branch, the world-renowned speakeasy in San Francisco. If You haven’t been to Bourbon and Branch before, call in to get a password, don’t order a Cosmo and follow the RULES!

Justin has worked in every aspect of the industry from dive bars, nightclubs, restaurants and craft cocktail joints so his experience is diverse and his perspective is unique. He’s spent time at Restaurant Gary Danko and he helped open Alexander’s steakhouse.

He even has a little hobby of going to three Michelin Star restaurants like the French Laundry. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that story on the podcast but let us know on the blog if you want to hear more, cause we’ll have him on again!

I’ve broken this episode up so that You can listen to the entire conversation (FULL CONVERSATION) as well as into multiple segments so you can get the feel for the podcast.

Please let me know what You want more of. Leave comments, play nice, and let’s make this a place you want to come back to!


Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (let me know if it's not available somewhere). You can listen here of course but I would love it if you would subscribe too.

Thank you and ENJOY!



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Manhattan and Podcast

October 06, 2017

Welcome Mavens

Welcome to Service Mavens, My name is Austin Degenhardt and this is my first blog post... ever. 

In this post I will tell you a bit about myself and why I am doing a blog and podcast. I will give you an idea of what can be expected here and paint a clear picture of who and what we will be talking about. Give it a shot, it will be fun.


I was a bartender and now I am an entrepreneur developing a footwear brand for service industry professionals to match the quality, performance, and style of the people they're designed for.


When I was behind the stick I learned that the job could be fun but it is also stressful and difficult to manage dealing with customers all day (many drunk ones at that). Half of customers don't know what they want but they want it FAST! I was engaging and could make a mean margarita but speed was not my specialty. Remembering all of the drink and food orders was a challenge but I got through it in a trial by fire! Same with memorizing the drinks, I still don't know how people do that, I was looking in the little black book all the time. 

I got by with the help of Tracy and my buddy Nick at the Fish Market in San Mateo, and on Saturday nights, we had a good thing going for awhile.

I considered attempting craft cocktails and when I looked at what it takes to get to that level I realized I couldn't just slide by. The expectations for individual service, quality, and knowledge are too high nowadays for servers, bartenders, and sommeliers. 

I did not have enough passion for the job and my hands were falling apart from all the wear and tear so I went a different career direction. But my love for the industry stuck with me and I didn't stray far from the industry at all. Now I'm back in a different form and my passion is to serve the people that serve us!

So I've made it my mission is to change the way we look at service industries both within and without. I believe in the idea of service leadership as defined in Robert Greenleaf's essay, The Servant as Leader and ideas developed from Hermann Hesse's Journey to the East. The basic story goes that a servant is with a group of people on a journey in the Far East. Everything goes well until the servant leaves, things get too difficult and people quit.

Later, members of the group discover that the servant is actually a well respected king (the leader). Obviously there is much more to the story and it's worth reading, for these purposes, I'll leave it there.

I believe this concept of servant leadership is apparent throughout service professions in our society. These service-oriented leaders come in the form of bartenders, waiters, waitresses, flight attendants, hotel staff, nurses and the list goes on...

They create our experiences when we go out. They work when we play. And sometimes they protect us from ourselves.

In that spirit of championing these folks, I started this blog and podcast to get to know the most talented, passionate, and hard working people behind some of the best bars and restaurants in the world.

So, who are these people?

I believe that career service industry professionals, especially bartenders, are mavens and connectors as Malcolm Gladwell describes them in The Tipping Point. They have a unique capacity for massive social circles! Just ask a bartender the name of a few other bartenders who work in the area and you'll see what I mean.

They also seem to know a lot of information about a wide range of topics. Cocktails, wine and food of course, but ask them about current events, distilleries, or motorcycles and you might get more than you bargained for. That's why we called the podcast and this blog Service Mavens.

Bartenders, servers, sommeliers, anyone in service to others who is performing at the highest level – those are our guests!  These people fit the mold of work hard - play hard. They're on their feet for 7-12 hours a day, creating a party for everyone to enjoy!

I want to provide a space where people can gather around the service industry. If you're inside you can get to know some of the best in the business and how they got there. If you're not in the industry and have never worked at a bar, club, or restaurant, this is your chance to see, feel, and hear what it's like.

So read on, tune in, and get to know the Service Mavens!

I personally want to know what drives them, what their world is like, and how the hell they remember all those cocktail recipes? What craziness do they see and how do they find balance in their life?

What do You want to ask your bartender? Well, here's your chance:

Enjoy and please give some feedback in the comments and keep in mind, unfriendliness will not be tolerated. Give feedback, constructive criticism even, and help me make this blog something you want to read and this podcast something you want to listen to!

Thank You. 

Austin Paul Degenhardt

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