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Jason Reese

CEO | Wyndridge Farm

Briefly describe your job and responsibilities.

I lead a team of professionals that cultivate and develop high performing teams in the Hospitality, Sales, Marketing and Beverage Manufacturing industry. We plan and execute unique events and curated experiences, while developing new and exciting craft beverage alcohol products for ourselves and other professional businesses in the industry.

What does a “typical” day at work look like for you?

It can vary widely, which is why I enjoy the work immensely. We might be working on a project for a new craft beer or cider release and developing the premise of the product, taking it through recipe iterations, design details and sales plans. Or I could be working on a new marketing campaign for the hospitality side of the business or reviewing a new menu written by the culinary team for a special event or developing our business plan for 2024 with our accounting team.

What was your first job in the hospitality industry?

My first, first job in hospitality was a snack bar in High School. But the first job I fell in love with in hospitality was in the kitchen during my time at The Nittany Lion Inn at State College while attending PSU. I worked prep first and made a lot of mistakes but also learned a ton. Eventually I got to working other stations and made even more mistakes but had so much fun cooking.

When did you know this industry was right for you?

When I really got involved with culinary teams, like at the Nittany Lion Inn. There’s so much that goes into that side of hospitality that people just don’t see or realize. It’s a lot of fun being in that fast paced, high-pressure environment. It’s very rewarding to work with a team that has a common goal and success gets measured in real time. Most jobs just aren’t like that, most jobs are pretty boring.

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to where you are today.

I graduated from Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management and thought I would be a chef, so I spent time cooking in a variety of restaurants before being asked to manage one of them. The experience I got working in kitchens and on the culinary side of the business served me very well transitioning to leadership. I eventually made my way into a Managing Partner role with a scratch Italian chain business, then took on a multi-unit role with that same chain and managed teams from Boston to Virginia. I stayed in that part of the industry for a while, eventually building teams and opening markets of restaurants for international chain brands that wanted to exist in the US market. I got to travel a ton to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East all while opening restaurants and learning about the business of Hospitality.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The comradery of the team, the ability to build and shape a team into the best version of itself.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The responsibility. It’s always evolving, always changing.

What advice would you give to students interested in your profession?

Have fun and try different roles within the industry. If you’re tired, figure out how to rest instead of quit. This industry is never easy, but it should always be fun. The industry is so diverse with roles and opportunities, and it develops skill sets that are valuable anywhere and in any industry.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Opening new locations is a very tough part of the business. One achievement that stands out was opening 15 new restaurants in Chicago over 18 months. It took a lot of teamwork and tested everyone’s ability to stay organized enough to achieve the goal.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I have two young kiddos 2 & 4 with another one on the way and I really love hanging out with them. I enjoy anything outside; golf, running, skiing. I’m a huge college football fan—GO STATE!

What is your favorite food to make or eat?

Chicken Parmesan.

What’s at the top of your bucket list?

Visit Hawaii and learn how to surf.