In this episode of Mixology Spirit, we ventured down to Southbury, CT to meet up with Stevie Sacco and Mallory Monagan who just opened up Bevy Co. If you recognize Stevie, it might be because she was a previous guest on our blog. When we learned she opened her own craft cocktail lounge, we wanted to hear all about the journey and what she learned from the experience. As most entrepreneurs can attest, their story has its ups and downs. But, their Spirit of Hard Work and resiliency ultimately got them across the goal line and Bevy Co is off to a great start, with great support from the community. Read on to learn more and to get the recipe for the “Artie Bucco” — a drink named after the iconic restauranteur in The Sopranos.
Batchers: It’s nice to see you again! Before we jump into your new venture here at Bevy Co., can you remind us all about your background and experience in the food service industry?
Stevie: Sure, and thank you for inviting us to be a part of this! I started in the industry at the age of 14 working with my aunt in a catering company and then moved on to various jobs in restaurants. I’ve worked at the Cheesecake Factory, Mercado, Marketplace and Lucas Local before opening Bevy Co. I think I’ve grown into roles with more responsibility because I always take initiative. I took on a spirit of managing even if I didn’t have the formal title of manager. This enabled me to learn all the various aspects of the restaurant business, which prepared me to become General Manager of Mercato. While working there, my friend and I launched a side hustle, a cocktail-catering businesses called Citrus & Rye. The huge demand for cocktail catering surprised us and I realized I couldn’t manage Mercato and a new business at the same time. So, I chose to give notice at Mercato and focus on the new venture. After a while, I began to really miss the rush of restaurant life and decided to break off from the catering venture to pursue my own establishment in Southbury, CT.
Batchers: And Mallory, how about you?
Mallory: Stevie and I are cousins and we literally grew up next door to each other, so we’ve always had a really close relationship. I’m two years younger and we joke that I always seem to follow in her footsteps. When she started at the Cheesecake Factory, I took a position there shortly afterwards…and that trend kept happening right up until we joined forces to launch Bevy Co. While we’re both active in all aspects of the business during the launch, Stevie is in charge of the restaurant and I will be managing the catering and events side of the business. I’ve always been someone that likes to make my own things from scratch. One of the ways I do this here at Bevy Co is to make homemade bitters, which play a big role in our craft cocktail menu.
Batchers: Stevie, did you always have a dream of opening your own bar/restaurant? How did you come to decide to make this leap?
Stevie: To be honest, I did not have a long-time dream to open my own place. As I mentioned before, it wasn’t until I left the restaurant business that I really understood how much I loved it and how much I missed it. But, as I plotted a return I knew I didn’t want to work for somebody else again. So that ignited the idea of starting my own establishment. After 16 years of putting in so much hard work, learning, managing, I said to myself, “If I don’t do it now, I may never do it.” I shared my vision with Mallory and she jumped on board. Having all of her experience alongside me really gave me more confidence — knowing that the two of us together would be able to figure everything out.
Batchers: What was the experience like going from, “I want to do this” to opening day?
Stevie: It was really, really hard. Not to mention frustrating and sometimes scary. Right from the start, we were met with negative, intimidating comments from the people we spoke to. I’m not kidding. I’d say 99% of the people we talked to about our venture had the same knee-jerk reaction, saying things like, “50% of restaurants fail. Do you know what you’re getting into? That’s really risky. What about this? What about that?” It annoyed me, but made me realize just how much of a thick skin you need. There were a lot of eyes on me during this period and I have to say, the pessimism motivated me even more to do it. Funny thing is, Mallory and I never doubted that we would succeed!
There were plenty of struggles along the way, of course. I put myself through the hell of capitalizing the business myself. It’s what I wanted to do. I sourced from a little nest egg that I built up during the pandemic years and I worked full time at Lucas Local during nights while I worked to launch Bevy Co during the day. The whole process took longer than expected. I ended playing the role of General Contractor, which is kind of funny since I didn’t have any experience doing that kind of project work, but it all came together in the end.
Batchers: Was there ever a moment during the journey where you thought you might not be able to pull it off?
Stevie: Yeah, there was. So, the space used to be a medical professional office and we needed to demo it in order to build out the restaurant space. Being rookies to the whole process, we proceeded with the demo before the health department had a chance to review and approve our zoning application. Well, they called one day and told us we could absolutely not put a restaurant there because of septic issues. It was a really scary moment. The only thing we could do was not take no for an answer, stay positive, and focus on finding a solution. I spent a significant amount of money on the demolition, so I wasn’t in a position to pack up and search for a new location. We had to figure it out. And thankfully, we did! Now we have the confidence that no matter what gets thrown at us, we’ll be able deal with it.
Batchers: Tell us what your vision and concept for Bevy Co is?
Stevie: The impact COVID had on the hospitality business just broke my heart. I feel it caused people to forget how to talk to each other, how to connect with each other, how to socialize and have fun. Prior to the pandemic, some of my most favorite memories of going out with friends took place at little “hole-in-the-wall” joints in New York City. Nothing fancy…just me and a couple of friends completely enveloped with each other, with great drinks in hand, some candles on the table, and music. That’s what we want to create here at Bevy Co — a real sense of community and happiness with great food and drink. That’s why you don’t see any televisions, or us pushing out as much food as we can. We want to create an amazing experience for our guests. We have a lot of fun with craft cocktails offering both approachable classics and delicious originals, like the Artie Bucco that we’re featuring today. Our food options include various food boards that can feed 2-4 people in addition to appetizers and small plate offerings such as coco-thai mussels, whiskey flank steak, and herbed edamame.
Batchers: There’s got to be a story behind the name. What is it?
Stevie: [laughing] It’s a bit of silly, random story. I like to do English accents–all the time. I don’t even realize I’m doing it anymore. After some time, whenever my friends and I wanted to get a drink, we got into this habit of saying (with the English accent), “Do you want a bevy?” That’s it. That’s the whole story.
Batchers: So, Mallory. How did you get into making the bitters served at Bevy Co?
Mallory: As I said earlier, anything that I enjoy, I like to know how to make. I like to be self-sufficient in the restaurant industry and in my own life. I’ve made hard kombucha, hard cider, and dabbled in beer. So when Stevie and I set out to design a unique and approachable craft cocktail menu, I immediately thought about which ingredients we could make that would elevate our cocktail experience. I began experimenting with various bitters recipes and they quickly became a staple behind the bar. The bitter featured in the Artie Bucco cocktail is a toasted almond bitters, made with simple ingredients right here at Bevy Co.
Batchers: What is it about leading and running the catering side of the business that you enjoy so much?
Mallory: I think it’s the fact that people trust us to play a critical role in a very important event in their lives. Whether that be a wedding or a 50th anniversary party, it’s very gratifying to know we made people happy and took some of the stress off their plate. We love bringing our craft cocktails to people’s homes and smaller parties, too. One of our favorite events is doing cocktail classes for like a group of 12 friends. We’ll teach everyone how to make the drinks, explain the ingredients, and enjoy the finished product, of course! They’re so fun!
Batchers: Any final advice for women entrepreneurs who may have a similar dream of opening their own establishment?
Stevie: We really hope to inspire more women to take a shot on goal and become their own business owner. It’s a male dominated industry and I noticed throughout my time in the business that behind every male owner, there are a lot of women doing the critical work of making the business successful. My advice for any woman considering going into business for themselves is that no matter what anyone says to you, what matters most is the voice in your own head — how you talk to yourself. You need to speak to yourself in a positive, confident way. One of the first times I told someone that I was thinking about this venture, he looked at me and said, “So many restaurants fail. What are you going to do if you fail?” I literally looked at him and said it never even occurred to me — like not once. Why would I fill my head with negative thinking? It never occurred to me that I would fail, at all. Obviously, you have to approach everything realistically, but if you think negative thoughts, you’ll see negative results. If you wake up every single day with a positive outlook and just work towards your goal, you will eventually achieve it.
Batchers: Thank you both for spending time with us. We appreciate your time and admire your Spirit of Hard Work. We look forward to watching you grow and succeed here at Bevy Co.!
Stevie: Thank you! We appreciate everyone’s support at Litchfield Distillery.
Stevie and Mallory’s featured cocktail is called the “Artie Bucco,” named after the infamous restauranteur in The Sopranos. It showcases our Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Feretti Biscotti Liqueur. It’s simple yet distinctly unique thanks to Mallory’s homemade toasted almond bitters.
- 2.0 oz. Litchfield Distillery Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- 0.25 oz. Faretti Biscotti Liqueur
- 2-3 dashes Toasted Almond Bitters
- Garnish: Orange peel and Maraschino Cherry
Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into rocks glass and garnish with orange peel and cherry.
To learn more about Bevy Co, please visit their website and be sure to connect with them on Instagram and Facebook. Bevy Co is located at 22 Poverty Road in Southbury, CT. For more information please call 203-405-1021 or email Contact@TheBevy.co.
About Mixology Spirit:
Mixology Spirit is a Litchfield Distillery blog series dedicated to sharing the stories of creative and passionate mixologists who embody The Spirit Of Hard Work®. Think you got what it takes to be featured? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2023 Litchfield Distillery. Photography & Editing Credits: Tony Vengrove