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Meet Erika Rode of Bitters Bar & Restaurant in South Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erika Rode.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have had an entrepreneurial mindset since I was a young girl, so it was always within my lifetime goals to open and develop something of my own. During my careers in Corporate Life, I always fulfilled my itch with the opportunity to develop business plans for small start-ups or getting my hands into consulting with projects for small businesses.

However, my career path in the Corporate environment helped to pave my way here. I have been involved with the Service industry for over 15 years, in restaurant capacity and retail environments. For 7 of those years, I had the pleasure of working in the Liquor Industry where I developed a true passion for the small business side of the Wine, Beer, and Spirits industry. It became somewhat of a mission for me to promote and help tell the story of these smaller concepts… the family-owned winery; the couple who started brewing out of a garage and built it into their own brewery eventually; the small-batch, hand selected spirits made with quality in mind over quantity.

Eventually, after a lot of hard work and increasing business for a lot of other people/corporations, I decided it was time for me to take the leap and get out on my own. Although it’s risky, the return is great in my opinion because it is something I planted, watered, and will watch it grow and thrive. Throughout my life, I have always heard “don’t risk it”; “you can’t do it”; “you’re not cut out for that”; “you’re too young or too green or too female or not feminine enough”….. literally I believe I have heard it all and I am confident that I will continue to hear more. But that does not matter to me! What I have learned is resilience is one of my best attributes.

Has it been a smooth road?
It absolutely has not been a smooth road! I would be lying if I said it was. Every day is a hustle, every day is a new struggle or challenge, and mistakes are made frequently. However, mistakes just make for great success stories later!

Building a business creates obstacles and challenges that are obvious:
* timely execution of plan reviews with city
* passing inspections and staying on course for deadlines
* finding the right team and being quick to action when someone is not the right fit
* negotiating contracts
* identifying your target market and consumer
* budgeting correctly
* funding and financials

However, I believe the most challenging struggles for me as an entrepreneur have been self-doubt, not allowing the negative opinions of others to affect my spirit, and never giving up no matter how difficult it might be! The road has challenged one of my greatest attributes, being resilience, but the hard times just push me to be smarter, more strategic, and one step ahead.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Bitters Bar & Restaurant story. Tell us more about the business.
Fresh hand-crafted cocktails, craft beers and wines, artfully crafted small plates from our scratch kitchen all add to the relaxed, rich atmosphere of Bitters in SkySong, South Scottsdale. Bitters is focused on 3 important points: Craft, Artisan, and Local.

Craft concepts in every facet of the business make Bitters unique. Not only do we specialize in hand-crafted, one of a kind cocktails, but we also offer exceptional gourmet foods from our scratch kitchen and a well-curated list of craft beers and wines for our guests. You won’t find mass produced products here; instead, we focus on promoting small production, unique, and even local products as much as possible. We have an exceptional on-site garden that we pull a lot of our produce and garnish from for dishes and cocktails… that’s pretty dang LOCAL if I say so! We are an elevated bar experience, without the ego though! This is a spot that you can call your own, your local spot.

The South Scottsdale community was eager to have their own restaurants/bars to call home which prompted the development of the Restaurants at SkySong. In searching many areas within Arizona, the demographics, and the current offerings, I knew that the location was ideal for my concept.

I am proud every day when my team and I get the opportunity to educate customers on smaller production, locally owned, and quality products in every facet of the business. Beyond this, what makes me the proudest is when a customer is treated with exceptional friendly, attentive service that makes them a Raving Fan of Bitters. That truly makes my heart happy!

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The liquor industry, craft spirits industry is growing in Arizona! Overall as a nation, craft spirit sales have been up in case sales, location growth, employment, etc. The industry saw huge growth from 2015 to now. What I love about this is, markets like California, Colorado, New York, and Washington often lead and stay ahead of curves, especially in this industry.

With that being said, I also know that Arizona’s market often follows trends. This is exciting and provides a lot of opportunity for growth. We are seeing a lot of growth already in this market here, with new breweries and distilleries popping up or on the horizon for future plans. There are some markets within Arizona that saturate fast, but with high tourism and resident growth, there will be a lot of untapped markets still.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Joe Zollner, Chris Ebarb

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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