A New 21st Century Training Center

Training bartenders and servers gets tougher every year, and in many cases, the job is too much for individual operators. That’s one of the reasons why some distributors have ramped up their own training operations over the past few years.

Now, responding to both the demands of their restaurant and bar customers and the challenge presented by the upgrades of their competitors, Southern Wines and Spirits of Nevada has just opened their Academy of Beverages and Fine Service’s new Learning Center.

The Learning Center was designed with the input of Francesco Lafranconi, creator of the Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada’s Spirits and Mixology Program. Known as one of the cutting edge training programs in the country, the program has boasted over 1000 graduates since 2000, taught their craft by some of the world’s leading beverage authorities. Actively teaching at the Learning Center with Lafranconi will be Cicerone and beer expert Sam Merritt, master sommelier Joseph Phillips, and level three saké sommelier and master sommelier Luis De Santos. A Certified Barista Program will also be included in the program. Also lending a hand with their expertise will be Livio Lauro, Southern’s senior director of sales for spirits, master sommelier Ira Harmon and educators James Starkus, Max Solano and Jair Bustillos.

Housed in a custom-built space meant to equal the finest bars and lounges in Sin City, the advanced beverage training facility’s look, style and cutting edge technology captured the vision of Larry Ruvo, senior managing director of Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada.

“The beverage industry is constantly evolving to be at the forefront of style and tastes, and we are constantly stepping up the ways we educate and inform those who will be the face of our industry,” says Ruvo. “Just as Las Vegas is a world-class destination, this facility ensures that Las Vegas will continue be the world standard for the beverage industry.”

Stainless steel work stations, built in an ergonomic “racetrack” design for speed, efficiency and ease of movement, are in the process of being patented. All tasting surfaces are LED-equipped to help students capture the true color of the beverage, and more than a dozen mood light settings replicate various hospitality environments. The entire space is integrated with a host of audio and visual tools that also enable remote learning and streaming of a variety of classes and events.

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