We’re fortunate to have Erin Carroll celebrating a decade at Bottleneck Management. We met with Erin, now Vice President of Events, to unearth a few fun facts about her time with Bottleneck over the years, including an appearance by Transformers.
How were you first introduced to Bottleneck?
“I have been really good friends with Jenny Akemann (owner Jason Akemann’s wife) since grade school. I spent many nights at Trace with Jenny and Jason hearing all about the plans to expand Bottleneck and open new restaurants.”
“I was lucky enough to even attend the friends and family openings at Sweetwater and South Branch. I have been in sales and business development my whole career and in 2011 I was ready to move on from my current job. That year, at Lollapalooza of all places, I was talking about looking for other jobs – in between shows of course – and Jason said I think I have an idea that you might be interested in. The rest is history….”
Ten years is a milestone to stay with one company. What has led you to stay?
“Being here for over a decade, I had the opportunity to contribute a lot to the operations and culture of the company. It’s extremely satisfying to see the fruits of your labor come to fruition. We are in an industry that requires constant change and development. For me, every day is very different, and I continue to be challenged.”
“I also work with good people. By that I mean, good human beings. From ownership down, Bottleneck Management is a company filled with genuinely good people, which can be rare to find.”
What do you enjoy about working with the team and company?
“Everyone we work with is passionate and aligned with the goals we are trying to achieve. We have people with all different areas of expertise which bring different perspectives and levels of support to the table.”
Is there a particular memory that stands out for you?
“It is really hard to nail down just one. Working in events, you tend to experience a LOT of different types of people and scenarios that you could never be prepared for. One of my favorite stories is when Transformers was filming on Wacker Drive next to South Branch.”
“We had a wedding booked during that time with an outdoor ceremony which is basically right next to Wacker Drive. The production company completely transformed Wacker Drive to look like a 1950’s city in Japan. The transformation was incredible. While we all thought it was the coolest thing, the bride-to-be did NOT think it was cool. We only got about two weeks’ notice of the production so there was really nothing we could do. I worked closely with the production assistant those two weeks leading up to the wedding regarding the scheduling, timing, etc., while also having to reassure a crying bride every day that it was going to be okay.”
“Of course, on the day of the wedding, they were filming major explosions around the same time as the ceremony. All of the wedding guests were sitting outside in the ceremony area, seeing and hearing everything that was going on. I was on a headset communicating with the production assistant with an anxious bride and her dad inside waiting to walk down the aisle.”
“We of course did not want explosions going on during the ceremony, so we anticipated a delay and weren’t sure how long it would be. About 30 seconds before we had the bride scheduled to walk down the aisle, I got word over the headset that they were all done with explosions. The ceremony and wedding went off without a hitch. The production company gave the couple the red-carpet treatment during the whole process and even let them take wedding photos on set.”
“While the lead-up was incredibly stressful, it turned out to be one of the coolest experiences of my career.”
Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of?
“I have been part of many “firsts” for the company. There is so much time and effort (along with some blood, sweat, and tears) that go into the concepting and building of any program. When I finally get to the other side of something that was incredibly challenging and see it become successful, it’s extremely rewarding and motivating.”
What Inspires you?
“When I see people taking measures to better themselves whether it is professionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually, I get really inspired. I am lucky in my life that I am surrounded by people that inspire me every day.”
What do you think other people should know about this organization?
“The values of Bottleneck Management center around “Genuine People. Genuine Hospitality.” It’s not just a tagline. We look for those values in everyone we recruit to become our teammates. Genuine hospitality doesn’t just come from the service to guests at the restaurants/venues. It also comes from every department that supports those restaurants/venues to ensure they are armed with everything they need to provide the best service possible.”