Back Bay Influencers are Moving the Needle

From Boston Common magazine


Game-changers. Deal makers. Goal-makers. Boston sets itself apart because of our people. We are a breed who takes pride in breaking rules for all of the right reasons. Here are a few with whom I am particularly smitten. Some quit jobs to chase their dream, others work the midnight hours on their passion projects. All are moving the needle in this city.


Lisa Flores, Director of Sales and Marketing, Columbus Hospitality Group and Founder & President of SERV(Society for Event Planners: Restaurant Venues)


What are you up to these days, Lisa?
I’ve been working with CHG for 16 years now. What started as a support role in front of house (while I was in school at Boston University) evolved into an events position at one of the most successful restaurant groups in Boston. Mentoring junior event planners over the years is what opened my eyes to an opportunity in the industry and a need for SERV (Society for Event Planners – Restaurant Venues) – a place where event planners in the restaurant industry can come to learn, exchange ideas, network and build relationships. Each event we host includes a panel that is specific to various aspects of our roles, from elevating the event experience through innovation and creativity to adding value to your restaurants bottom line. After coming up with the idea in Spring 2016, we kicked off our first breakfast with 50 attendees at Ostra. The most recent event was a discussion with the owner of Rafanelli Events, Bryan Rafanelli, and Restaurateur Garrett Harker and was attended by more than 200 industry professionals. It’s been an incredible and very rewarding experience.

How do you define moving the needle?
Recognizing that there’s a need and then acting on it. Putting momentum behind an idea and bringing it to fruition.

How are you pushing the boundaries?
Over the years, I would attend various networking events with colleagues and always walked away feeling like there was more to be discussed. The topics that were focused on did not directly relate to the challenges that event planners working in restaurant venues face. I’d attend wedding planner events, catering events, executive events, conference and exhibition events, but none directly correlated with the majority of the work you do in a private dining room within a restaurant. I wanted to create something that was tailored to us, for us, by us.

What are words that inspire you?
My words to live by are from Drake: “Never let success get to your head and never let failure get to your heart.”

Brahm Callahan, Beverage Director, Himmel Hospitality Group


What is your profession?
I am a Master Sommelier. I love great service and the ability for a memorable dining experience to truly affect someone’s life. It chose me; I have a master’s degree in ancient history but kept coming back to the hospitality industry.

How do you define moving the needle? Are you doing this?
I think it is measurable in a number of different ways. Internally, I try to move the needle every day by pushing myself to be better (even if no one else notices). Externally, I think moving the needle means pushing others forward in their pursuits. We all make each other better.

What are words that inspire you?
“If they didn’t want it to break they wouldn’t make it out of glass” – kind of my spilled milk thing, but with wine.