Food is Our Life

Meet the Folks at FoodMix who Make Food their Life

FoodMix is a marketing agency well known for its food and beverage marketing expertise. From our research capabilities to our commitment to strategy-based creativity, there are many reasons to explain our success, but when it really comes down to it, our most important asset is our people. For this new blog series, we’ll be letting our unique team of experts share their own perspectives on how their personal relationships with food have helped influence their professional relationship. Today we’ll be hearing from Jeremy Anderson, one of our associate creative directors who also happens to be a foodservice operator himself:

My fate of working with food and beverages was sealed from the moment I was born. You see, I grew up in very small town in northern Michigan with only two businesses – a post office and a bar. My great-great aunt and uncle had started The Cedar Bar in the mid 1930s right after Prohibition (if you ask some people, it was during Prohibition, but that’s another story). They built it with the intent of giving the people in their community a comfortable place to have a drink, have a good meal and simply enjoy the company of one another.

From my aunties, who tended the bar, to my uncles and cousins, who worked the grill, to my own mom, who waited tables before she became a nurse, all the way to my grandpa, who liked to call it his “office” (though I don’t remember him ever doing much work), practically every member of my family worked in that bar in one way or another at one time or another. Every family and community event from baby showers to funeral wakes was held there. Even though the bar has changed owners multiple times over the years, to this day, a framed picture of my grandpa remains on the wall next to his favorite place – The Don “Burt” Dare Memorial Shuffleboard Table.

I literally took my first steps in the Cedar Bar, and by the time I was 14 was a seasoned pro at doing the dishes. By the time I went to college, I had more foodservice experience than most of the managers in the restaurants I found myself working in. There was plenty more to learn though, and as I continued to move along in the restaurant biz, I found myself increasingly drawn to the world of fine dining. I fell in love with the totality of the experience. From the passion of the executive chefs to the sass of the line cooks, to the salesmanship skills of the servers, to me, there was nothing more fulfilling than the culinary arts.

After a few years though and a lot of late nights, I started to feel like maybe I wanted to do more than just work in a restaurant. I finished college and moved to Chicago to try my hand at another passion that I had always wanted to follow – writing. I soon found myself gravitating toward the better-paying jobs found in the advertising world as a copywriter. Thanks to my background in the food industry, I was often placed on accounts where I could draw on my food knowledge and translate it into ideas that resonated with consumers.

Just as I was beginning to hone the craft of copywriting and build a reputation for myself, my girlfriend (and future wife) Julie was graduating from law school. Together we were looking forward to a new life that seemed to be heading in a very different direction than the one I had started out in way back at that bar in northern Michigan. Then one day, that new life took a dramatic detour. In the morning Julie mentioned to me that she was going to visit a condo for sale in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. She gave me a nervous smile when she came home that night and said she didn’t really like the condo…but she had actually found something else. She then told me she had put in an offer on a small Italian restaurant in the same building. Some people bring home puppies; my wife brought home an entire restaurant.

Flash forward to us owning and operating Café Ciao, a small restaurant and wine bar for over 16 years. Though the crowd in the rapidly growing neighborhood was a little different than that of the Cedar Bar, we made it our mission to honor the ethos of what my great-great aunt and uncle started so long ago by giving the people in our community a comfortable place to have a drink, have a good meal and simply enjoy the company of one another.

The first few years it was just Julie and me working at the small 8-seat restaurant. Over time though and lot of hard work, our loyal staff grew, and Café Ciao became self-sufficient enough to allow me to return to my copywriting career. When the pandemic hit in 2020 and we had to temporarily close for an extended period, I happened to come across an ad for a job at FoodMix.

Being a part of the FoodMix creative team has been a chance to see my life’s work come full circle. The opportunity to share my experience and perspective as a foodservice operator in a creative way with other operators has really helped me to better understand and distill my own passion for food. While reflecting on my history while I was writing this blog, I realized that some people spend their entire lives chasing after the career they want and that I was among the lucky few who got to spend their life with a career that always showed them exactly where to go next.

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