Armando Dawdy was born on November 16, 1962, in Houston, Texas. Armando Dawdy has been married to Francesca Avonda Dawdy since June 6, 2002. Together they have two sons, Liam and Connor. Armando Dawdy graduated from the University of Houston in 1986. Armando Dawdy is currently a Wine Director at Brenner’s on the Bayou from August 2009 to the present. Armando was formerly a general manager at the Pesce Restaurant, a Wine Director at Tony’s Restaurant, and a Bar and Grill Manager at the Ritz-Carlton.
How did you get started in this business?
I was working at the Ritz-Carlton in Houston, and the sommelier there got transferred to the Ritz-Carlton in New York. There was an opening, and I had a passion for wine. So, they sent me on a two week crash course back then. My first place was the Mansion at Turtle Creek in Dallas. I’ve taken off from there, and I’ve been doing it for more than 20 years.
How does your company make money?
Simply just the purchase and selling of wine. A lot of people pay really nice for expensive wine.
How does your company go about acquiring new customers?
I would say that personal relationships in the wine business with owners and winemakers have helped me tremendously. It has allowed to me to meet a lot of people and through this I was exposed to their clientele.
How did you work your way up in this business?
I would say that personal relationships in the wine business with owners and winemakers have helped me tremendously and then there’s the studying.
What made you want to work in this industry
I’m going to say that I’ve always had an affinity for wine starting at a very young age. and I’ve been very fortunate in my career to work with and meet some of the finest master sommeliers.
What is it that you feel makes you good at your job?
Experience. I’ve been doing this for years and have serviced a wide range of palettes. Practice makes perfect when it comes to an industry like this, you’ll have slip ups along the journey, but in due time you’ll be perfecting it.
What are the perks of working in this type of business?
That I’ve been fortunate enough to work at some of the finest restaurants in Houston and meet some very well known people. One was called Tony’s where I was the wine director for nine years. While I was there, I was fortunate enough to choose wines for the Clinton’s. The Clinton’s had a dinner there, as well as Bill Gates. That was all during the Democratic convention.
What are the disadvantages of working in this field?
It’s a changing market, and nothing is set in stone. With the COVID situation there’s the issue on how to get customers to feel comfortable buying wine. That was all during the Democratic convention
What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
I’m going to say at the end of the year the profit that I put to the bottom line for my restaurant is extremely satisfying, that knowing you’ve worked hard all year, and that the money that goes to the bottom line can show how well you’ve done.
Where is your industry headed? What excites you about the future in this line of work?
Well, I’m not quite sure what it holds because with COVID and the way that the restaurant industry and wine sales are changing, nobody is quite sure what’s going to happen. We’ve had to find different marketing strategies to get wine to customers where they feel comfortable. I would say I’m most excited about the new wine regions. Greece, South Africa, Argentina, China are all starting to produce quality wines and the growing market for wine all over the world is really exciting.
What advice do you give people who want to get into your field of work?
I would say to be patient, that you want to learn everything as fast as possible and you want to absorb all the information you can. It just takes time. It’s a long learning process when you’re learning about wine, because there’s so many different variables that go into it.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Well, the truth is, no. I’m too old and crotchety to be a mentor, but I guess I should say yes. They could always contact me at the restaurant in which I work, and it is called Brenner’s on the Bayou. I do help out a lot with the younger sommelier at the company.