Greg Newman’s Flyover Conference Takes Off

Food and beverage event bringing together local entrepreneurs launches this month.

Illustration by Chris Danger

West side native Greg Newman is busy getting ready for Flyover Conference, an inaugural two-day event for food and beverage industry professionals in smaller markets. The schedule includes local heavy hitters such as Molly Wellmann, Jacob Trevino, and Kayla Robison. We talked to Newman about his food favorites, the event’s origins, and what makes Cincinnati a great food-and-drink destination.

Did your upbringing have any influence on your taste in food?

I’m a west-sider, born and raised in Price Hill and Covedale. “Price Hill Chili after the game?” isn’t an over-exaggeration. Many days and nights after a basketball game, football game, or any other reason to get the family together, like birthdays and anniversaries, were spent enjoying coneys and Greek fries.

How did you come up with the concept for Flyover?

My business partner, Sarah Engstrand, and I met several years ago. She was organizing a big conference in Las Vegas and I was speaking on one of the panels. After attending all of the larger food and beverage conferences scattered around the largest cities in the world, we mutually agreed that there was a giant gap in accessibility. It’s really expensive to get a flight, a conference pass, and miss work to attend. We asked ourselves, how can we take the education, networking, and community building that are so vitally important to the health of the industry overall and give smaller markets the attention they deserve? A conference combining national and international talent with local leaders right in their own city was the answer.

Who’s the target audience for the event?

We hope that everyone in the food, beverage, and hospitality industry will be able to find something of value. Whether you’re a barback looking to become a bartender, a bartender looking to become a brand ambassador, or an owner looking to expand or just adopt better practices, we have something for you. As an industry, we learn and get better together. The audience is us.

You’re launching this venture in Cincinnati. Why did you want to start here?

I absolutely love Cincinnati and get told all the time in my travels, “You know, you never shut up about Cincinnati.” The F&B industry here is on the rise and starting to gain some national attention thanks to several unofficial ambassadors gaining spots on advisory boards, appearing and hosting panels at the larger conferences, and winning food contests on TV. (I’m avoiding names so I don’t forget anyone, but you know who they are. I know several have been featured in this magazine!) I want to keep that momentum going and I also can’t think of a better spot to launch this conference and give back other than my own hometown.

What can attendees expect?

You can expect to listen and learn from local and national industry leaders during the day, and then parties at night. The networking opportunities are just as important for people as the education, and we want to keep things really fun.

In general, what do you think it takes to make a viable restaurant/bar concept work?

If you take care of your staff, your staff will take care of your business. There’s a vibe that comes through when the staff is happy. It carries over to long-term viability. This can even be as simple as sweeping or dusting or other little details that become large if they are ignored. If every time I come in the staff looks miserable, I’m probably not going back. If I go in and they’re always having the time of their lives, or I read about how well they’re being treated, I’m 100 percent supporting that business.

Anything else our readers should know?

Stop into our local bars and restaurants and see what they’re getting into! Even if you try a place out and decide it’s not your thing, at least you know. I bet you’re going to find that nearly all the places we have here in Cincy are better than you remember. You’re going to find your new favorite spot.

The Flyover Conference takes place at Rhinegeist Brewery on June 24 & 25.

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