We’re hosting a panel of small business owners and bloggers who have succeeded in the growing food and beverage industry within NEPA. On the panel, we’ll have Matt Serniak and Matt Lynch (the guys behind the award-winning NEPA Wing Men wing review blog), Mario Bevilacqua (owner and chef of What the FORK Truck and Restaurant, who won 2nd best food truck in the US on Kelly & Michael), and Jason Startari (a brewer with the amazing ShawneeCraft Brewing Company).
1. What do you do for a living (company you work for, official title, daily responsibilities, etc.)?
Mario – What The FORK, President/Owner. Daily responsibilities: working ON the business, not IN the business. Daily, i work on the finer parts of the company including refining employee handbooks, updating information internally and monitoring/ updating social media sites as well as yelp, zomato. meeting with my controller regarding food cost & labor, discussing upcoming events with my coordinator, meeting food vendors.
Matt S. – For a living, I am a substitute teacher and also a football and baseball coach.
Matt L. – I am a Process Analyst at TMG Health. As a Process Analyst, I review system and operational processes to determine gaps and identify areas of possible improvement.
Jason – I am the Vice President of Business Development for the Shawnee Holding family of companies, which has interests in real estate development, property management, hospitality, and energy. My focus is primarily on strategic development and financial analysis, though the most dynamic (aka fun!) part of my job is managing the ShawneeCraft Brewery! I am also proud to serve my community as an interim Supervisor in Smithfield Township and am running for a full term in this November’s general election. Vote for Jason!
2. Can you tell us a little more about the beginnings of your blog, when/why did you start it and what have been your biggest ah-ha moments?
Mario – Mario has no blog 🙁
Matt S. – Our blog (NEPA Wing Men) started out of just wanting to keep a log of all the wing places we went to. Then we decided to add a rating to each place. Then we decided it be cool to put the ratings online, which led us to do reviews of each place.
Matt L. – Prior to becoming The Wing Men, we would get our wing fix at Perv’s in Peckville, which provided amazing wings in the perfect atmosphere. Unfortunately, Perv’s closed and we were left scrambling to find a place that could fill that hole. As a result, we created a spreadsheet of places across NEPA that were worth checking out. After visiting a few places, we decided to start rating each place on a specific scale and post their findings on their website, NEPAWingmen.com.
Since beginning our quest in 2012, The Wing Men have rated and reviewed over 80 different locations spanning from Nanticoke to Waymart. Now, the goal of our website is to provide a one-stop resource for all things wings in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and the rest of NEPA.
Jason – I guess my blog started before I even realized that’s what it was. A few years ago I started writing personal emails to friends and colleagues to engage with them about upcoming events at the ShawneeCraft Brewery. Over time, my distribution list grew to include loyal patrons and potential customers as well. My “aha” moment happened a few years ago at a beer festival in the Lehigh Valley with my wife. Someone approached our booth (as hundreds of people do at these events), and with a rather stern face he asked, “Who is Jason?” In my mind, I knew I had sent a particularly scandalous email a few days before, so I was a bit hesitant to reveal my identity. Naturally I replied, “Why do you ask?” Mr. stern-face then provided the “aha” moment by saying, “Because I love reading his emails and I was hoping to meet him in person!” This was the first time I realized that people were actually paying attention to my writing. My wife still doesn’t believe it’s true!
3. Where do you pull your inspiration from (in relation to your blog)?
Mario – No blog.
Matt S. – My inspiration pretty much comes from my experience at each wing joint.
Matt L. – I don’t think there’s a particular area that we pull our inspiration from. The main point is to visit a place and write a review based on our visit. Our scores are a factor of past experiences as The Wing Men and personal preference on what we like.
Jason – Literally everywhere! Random things catch my attention, which I store in a mental bank to someday become feature subjects in my digital rantings.
4. What (offline) hobbies do you like to do in your spare time?
Mario – Riding my motorcycle, big brothers big sisters, golf.
Matt S. – I am a stand up comedian, who also does improv comedy shows as often as possible.
Matt L. – I enjoy home brewing. I began brewing beer at the beginning of 2013 and have really taken an affinity to the craft. I really like creating my own recipes and putting a twist on traditional styles. It is a labor of love, as it can take about a whole month for me to try the final product, but there is no greater joy than tasting the finished product that I made from scratch.
I also enjoy traveling and visiting places that I’ve never been before. I think there’s beauty in any place, but you just need to know where to look.
Jason – In this digital age, I guess I take a little pride in that all my hobbies exist offline. The problem is, I have too many of them! I enjoy: golf, music, reading, jogging, biking, canoeing, camping, fishing, skiing, all things sports, craft beer, craft whiskey, jiu jitsu, so on, and so on. With a wife, two little kids, and 1.5 jobs, sometimes I have to do them all at once!
5. If your blog was an animal, what animal would it be?
Mario – No blog.
Matt S. – Tree toed sloth, because our blog just hangs around on that sturdy branch called the interweb.
Matt L. – This is definitely an interesting question. The obvious answer would be a chicken, since we are reviewing hot wings. Honestly though, I would have to go with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. First, because dinosaurs are awesome. Second, because chickens evolved from dinosaurs. Also, we are ravenous in our quest to review the best wings in NEPA, like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I would have to imagine a T-Rex would be just a meticulous in their review of hot wings as well.
Jason – An emu. Have you ever seen an emu? Strange- looking, random movements…somehow you can’t take your eyes off it. Yes, that’s my writing style.