Master Sommelier Shares Why He Helped Create the Independent Restaurant Coalition In A New Documentary

February 21, 2022
Barbara Castiglia


Colorado restauranteur Bobby Stuckey, Partner & Master Sommelier at Frasca Food and Wine, knows the challenges of making a restaurant a success under normal economic conditions. Add in a global pandemic, and the recipe for any restaurant owner is one for trying to avoid disaster and keep the doors open. SOMM TV documents Stuckey’s struggle for survival, and that of an entire industry, in a new documentary film, Saving the Restaurant. Stuckey shared his experience with Barbara Castiglia.

When the pandemic first began shuttering restaurants in mid-March of 2020, it only took a moment for Stuckey and fellow restauranteurs to realize they didn’t have strong advocacy at the local, state, or federal level. Amid all that, SOMM TV reached out to shoot some footage with Stuckey to capture what these uncertain early days were like for independent restaurants. Once on the scene, director Andrew Ackerman saw what Stuckey was going through was no short segment on the pandemic—it was a life and death struggle for not only Stuckey’s businesses but for all restaurants that warranted a feature-length documentary.

Stuckey and several of his fellow restauranteurs formed the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “We were not an organization the day before COVID,” Stuckey said. “We didn’t have funding. We didn’t have expertise. I think most of us thought we’d be doing that for six-to-seven weeks. We’re now twenty-three months later, and the core of the Independent Restaurant Coalition is still fighting every day to sure up our industry.”

Stuckey said those early days felt like he and his fellow restauranteurs were on a sinking ship, and they were bailing water as fast as they could. He recognized the toll it all took while watching the unfolding drama on Saving the Restaurant. “The documentary is completed. The journey of American restaurants is not,” Stuckey said.

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