HP: How is your family?
SM: So far 100 percent. Everybody’s at home and everybody’s good.
HP: What’s the status of your program at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse?
SM: All steakhouse employees are furloughed. My whole team, about a week before I was, and [Master Sommelier] Jack [Mason], for example, our last day at the steakhouse was March 21.
HP: What have you been doing to keep yourself busy professionally?
SM: Over the last few weeks, [Master Sommelier Jack Mason, his colleague at the steakhouse] and I have reached out to some big-time collectors who have [wine storage] lockers at various places and asked if they needed any cellar work, inventory, audit, organization, etc. These collectors and regulars stepped up in a big way. And so with a few days of exceptions, we’ve been working in cellars since we left Pappas.
We’ve kind of made it into a thing. There’s a project that’s supposed to start tomorrow that could be a couple weeks’ worth of work. It’s a humungous cellar. And it may enable us to get some of our furloughed sommeliers some work.
It’s one of those things where one collector tells another and tells another.
HP: How many people do you hope to get involved?
SM: It’s just me and Jack right now. We hope to be able to hire a couple of people from the team. There are full-time somms who are on unemployment now.
It’s been a blessing because unemployment hasn’t kicked in yet. We have no income and my wife’s teaching gig is going to stop this month.
HP: What are your plans for the future?
SM: I'm optimistic and eager to get back to work. But I just can’t waste my bandwidth on that right now. I just got to focus on what’s right in front of me. I anticipate that there are going to be some opportunities on the other side of this. But I just don’t know.
HP: Your music and songwriting made a splash when you posted your song “Aligoté” in 2018. What are you doing musically these days?
SM: Frank Bullington [a Houston-based wine professional and accomplished drummer] and I are working on a couple more tracks.
“Nebbiolo” is out and it’s on YouTube. We had fun shooting a little video [earlier this year before the Stay Home-Work Safe order]. Because it was so much fun, we have a couple more on deck. So we’ll see.
Who knows? Before all this I was trying to get enough material so that I could submit to Collisioni [a music and wine festival held in Italian wine country] or SXSW as “comedy wine hip-hop.” We haven’t monetized anything yet. We might start a schwag store. Space City Somms is our YouTube channel.
I’m just focusing on trying to earn a little scratch and carving out a piece for our guys.