Jillian Tuttle, 32, Utica, NY.
I have pretty fond memories of my childhood! I went to Catholic school for most of my life, which I never really identified with religiously, but the small nature of the school provided me with a sense of community. I played basketball from 1st grade, up until my senior year of high school, and at least one of my parents would be at every single game (shoutout attachment issues!) In the summers I would go rollerblading with my neighbor, or play roller hockey with my brother and his friends - when he would allow me to, of course. Both of my parents worked full time, and my mom would always have these side jobs - shoutout to the hustle! But we would more often than not, sit down for dinner as a family. My mom was a great cook, so dinner was always an exciting time for us.
Ok hear me out...tomato soup & elbow macaroni, with shredded parm. Will forever remind me of home!! (This is not my mother's cooking, she will kill me.)
My venture is long! I will spare you a lot of the off-roading. My hospitality career technically began at 15 when I started working at a pizza place in my hometown. But I got into beverage when I started bartending in college when I was 19. From there, I knew it was where I wanted to grow my career. I had a short stint in Boston (gross), and then moved to New York City when I was 24. I continued bartending, and then picked up an office position with the hospitality group I was working for at the time. I grew with them, holding various positions in social media, marketing, and events. I started freelancing on the side as well. Then I went on to be a manager at Public Arts at the Public Hotel, as part of the opening team. 5 months later, my boss was fired and they offered me the GM position. I did that for about a year and a half and then transitioned back into marketing and events for all of the venues within the hotel. After that, I accepted a role as Nightlife Manager at Undercote, which is the cocktail lounge beneath Cote. I lost my job there when the pandemic hit, which is how my baby, Cute Sips, was born!
Taking the loss of my job out of it, it forced me to turn inward, find things that bring me peace. It was an adjustment for sure because I thrive on human interaction. To go from entertaining a hundred people a night, to being alone, felt like an aggressive shock to my system. I ended up going upstate for about 3 and a half months to my mom's where I spent a lot of time taking walks, doing yoga, and cooking. Trying to find joy in things that didn't require other humans.
It has just reiterated what I've already known, and that is the hospitality industry is extremely adaptive, and resilient. You see that in how quickly Michelin star restaurants were able to pivot to takeout and delivery. Supplies being ordered for cocktail bars to bottle and sell their cocktails to-go. The structures that were built, and the intention that went into packaging for you to safely eat the food you love, in the comfort of your home.
Oooof, this is tough because I truly love so many of them and every time I'm like "this is one of my favorites!!". But if I had to choose one I'd say this set of multicolor jeweled tone tall-stemmed cordial glasses.
I've done a lot of outdoor dining, but obviously can't wait to sit inside! I would say once it's truly safe and indoor dining is fully open, you will find me at the bar at Skin Contact. It's a natural wine bar a friend of mine, Salma, opened up right before the pandemic hit. Their wine selection is incredible, and Salma goes to the farmer's market weekly, so every item on their menu is prepared fresh with seasonal ingredients. I will literally eat or drink anything she gives me! But to be honest, she probably knows my palate better than I do.
Nothing concrete, yet! But keep an eye on cute sips because I will definitely be keeping the glassware coming! Planning on expanding it in other ways in the future so hopefully you'll be along for that ride :)