How did it all begin for me? One faith filled day I was asked by Rolen Miller, owner of Traditions Spirits, to join his very small team to begin the process of serving alcohol inside Riverwind Casino. The previous five plus years I had worked for the Chickasaw Nation Division of Commerce overseeing the restaurants, so I was very familiar with the ins-and-outs of all of the Casinos, and him asking me just made sense. I immediately jumped onboard and we began the process of weeding through the laws and trying to figure out just how in the heck we were going to pull this off. We scrambled through paperwork for the state, county, and city. We frantically started creating SOP’s, job descriptions, hiring ads, and so much more as we were beginning completely from scratch. Thank goodness I had people like Michelle Wood and Shelby Wilson in those days as there was no shortage of things to do. There was never a dull moment.
Days went by and we were still waiting on approval from the Chickasaw Nation to serve the first beer inside Riverwind. We received the call on a Friday afternoon before a Foreigner concert (I think) letting us know that we could start serving that day. We were completely prepared and had all staff in place, so we started slinging booze that night. I was a bartender, barback, server, manager….whatever it took! Basically, no different than what you guys do today. I probably got in most people’s way. What a night! I need that emoji of me wiping sweat from my face! That night stood for a long time as one of the highest sales nights.
We were happy with just serving at Riverwind, but that didn’t last long. I guess we did a pretty good job because the Nation continued to ask us to do more. Will you serve at Newcastle? Will you take over this restaurant? Will you serve beer at WinStar? (It was still a dry county). Keep in mind, WinStar was nothing like it is today. We served every single beer out of a beer tub because we didn’t have bars. We were also adding alcohol service to small facilities along the way. Believe it or not, I drew more than one bar layout on a napkin, and that was our plan in the early days. I don’t think they would let me pull that off now!
How did I get all of these gray hairs? Lots of blood, sweat, tears, screaming, beating my head against a wall, and sleepless nights—and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the experience I have had with this great company. I am the most proud of what Traditions Spirits has been to so many people over the years. We have hired a lot of people, and through that, we have gained lifetime employees and friends. I am extremely proud of the way we follow our Mission Statement. Those words mean so much to me, and when I hear an employee recite it in front of their peers, I swell up with pride. I pose this question often. Did you know your previous company’s Mission Statement? The answer is almost always “no”. I think it speaks volumes for the commitment our managers have made to living by our Mission, Vision, and Core Values. When we sat down and created those it just felt good. We put our heart into that, and I think it fits us perfectly.
We may serve food and beverage, which would make us an F&B company, but I believe we are a people company. We simply could not do what we do without our great employees. Our goal is to exceed employee expectations by treating them like family. I am proud to call our employees my “family”.
I look forward to the next ten years, and know when we look back we will leave a trail of successes behind us. The sky is the limit. Let’s continue pushing to be the very best at what we do.
Cheers to many more. Marcus Tilly