Listen to the Podcast About Philmont Country Club

Podcast for Philmont Country Club

Podcast Summary

In a compelling interview with Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos, Food and Beverage Director at Philmont Country Club, Jimmy Alvarez, sheds light on his career trajectory, his experience at Philmont, and how he’s seen the Philmont Country Club transform.

Alvarez, who brings a wealth of experience in Food and Beverage management to the Philmont Country Club, has been instrumental in the club’s event management and member engagement initiatives for almost two years. His journey to Philmont has been unique, marked by hands-on learning experiences rather than conventional academic pursuits. Alvarez emphasized the importance of learning on the job, stating that his 20-year tenure with the Bohemian Club formed the basis of his in-depth understanding of the industry.

At the Bohemian Club, one of his career highlights involved learning about the wine business, earning his Level 3 WSET. Additionally, he attended some courses at the Culinary Institute of America, significantly enhancing his culinary skills and understanding.

After moving from San Francisco to the East coast due to rising cost of living, Alvarez transitioned from working in a social club to various country clubs. However, he expressed that he considers Philmont Country Club a true home which has positively influenced him both personally and professionally. He highlighted the exciting transformations taking place at the club which he is eager to witness, hinting at construction work and other developments in the pipeline.

In his role at Philmont, Alvarez assists with organizing diverse club events such as weddings and corporate functions. He noted the excitement bubbling at Philmont Country Club and looks forward to witnessing and being part of its future transformations. This illuminating interview underscores Jimmy Alvarez’s influential role at Philmont Country Club.

Learn more about Philmont Country Club

This interview was provided by Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos

Podcast Transcript

Nate (00:24)
Hey everybody, it’s Nate with Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos. I am here with the amazing Jimmy Alvarez, who is the Food and Beverage Director at the Philmont Club. And he wears many, many hats, including helping manage events there, as well as all of the membership engagement events that they have at the club. I’m really excited to be talking with him and it should be a really great time. Jimmy, thanks for joining me.

Jimmy Alvarez (00:48)
My pleasure, thank you for having me.

Nate (00:50)
Absolutely, I was really excited to get chatting with you about this. You and I have talked a number of times over the phone about everything going on over at the Philmont Club. I wanted to dive in and talk a little bit about you, because you’ve told me a few stories from your past and stuff. So how long have you been with Philmont?

Jimmy Alvarez (00:56)


I’ve been with Philmont almost two years now. I’ve had a great time here and it’s been a roller coaster of emotions here at Philmont with construction happening and all these fun stuff in the very near future. So it’s been a fun ride so far.

Nate (01:19)
Ha ha!

cool. Awesome. So prior to your time with Philmont, what were you doing, you know, before the last couple of years, what was sort of your path to coming on F and B?

Jimmy Alvarez (01:38)
wow, so my path, a little,

I didn’t go the conventional way of going to school, education. It’s really the hands -on education that I got. I worked for this amazing company called the Bohemian Club, and I worked for them for about 20 years. During my time there, I know, there’s a lot of grays, I just spray painted and dye them.

Nate (02:00)
wow, okay.

Jimmy Alvarez (02:06)
But overall, it was a great experience, 20 years with them. They did provide some education, one of them being going to the wine country and learning a little bit of the wine business. And so I have my level three WSET, so that’s the Spirit Wine Education Trust. So it’s been a, it was a great experience. I went to CIA, Bohemian Clique.

club supported CIA and that’s the Culinary Institute of America. So I took some courses there. No, no, no, no. However, I did. However, I did work with the Secret Service for when I had some presidents at the club. So.

Nate (02:38)
Mm -hmm.

Okay, not the Central Intelligence Agency. Different CIA.

that’s cool.

Jimmy Alvarez (02:54)
I know it was really cool. Again, an awesome company to work for. But my time has passed with them. And then at a certain point, living in San Francisco in California.

Nate (03:06)
Mm -hmm.

Jimmy Alvarez (03:08)
The cost of living was creeping up way too much. And at a certain point I decided, you know what, and this was about 10 years ago, I decided, all right, let’s go ahead and make the move across country. Sure, why not? So, and not only was it a culture shock to move to the East Coast, but also from a social club, which is the Bohemian Club, to country club companies here in the East Coast. So I worked for several other clubs.

Nate (03:32)
Mm -hmm.

Jimmy Alvarez (03:38)
country clubs all were great experiences. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but now I find myself with a true company that really cares and has really transformed not only me, but also the Philmont is transforming as I’m in front of my eyes, which is kind of cool to see. I’m excited to see what the future brings.

Nate (04:02)
That’s really cool.

That’s what I was going to say. It sounds like there’s a lot of excitement stirring around over at Philmont.

Jimmy Alvarez (04:09)
Yes, yes, definitely, absolutely.

Nate (04:14)
So one of the things I wanted to talk to you about is, you know, one of the hats you wear is helping with events that come into the Philmont, weddings and corporate events and social things like that. In the time that you’ve been with Philmont and…

Jimmy Alvarez (04:21)
Mm -hmm.

Nate (04:29)
even some of the things that you saw at the Bohemian Club on the West Coast, Are there any like current trends that you see in the industry that gets you really excited? Are there things that are kind of evolving in front of your eyes? Like what are some of the cool new things you’ve been seeing come through with your events?

Jimmy Alvarez (04:46)
Absolutely, and what I’ve noticed, the successful clubs that really…

moved with the wind, I guess, in some ways. Moving with the trend, it’s really including the entire family. The country clubs in the past, in their history, it was only meant for the gentleman. Now it’s more country club where you have to have activities for the kids and something for the

Nate (04:57)
I’m sorry.

Mm -hmm.

Jimmy Alvarez (05:22)
the ladies and something other, something social than just golf. So I’ve been in the golf industry, you know, country club industry for some time. So it’s no longer, yes, it is easy to focus on the golf course for the gentlemen, because that’s what sells the membership. But for to get the approval from the entire family, you have to have something for the kids and for the ladies. So I’ve been working on here at

Nate (05:29)

Mm -hmm.

Jimmy Alvarez (05:52)
Philmont really amping up all the kids events. So once a month we have a kids event where it’s just focused on just the kids. So we did a little chefs event where we cooked Caesar salad, cooked and cooked pizzas and decorated our own desserts.

And you piggyback that with a parents night out where we take on the kids, entertain the children while the parents go to the restaurant and have their nice quiet meal. So essentially we’re overseeing their kids while they enjoy the club. So it’s kind of a great thing to really share that here at Philmont. And it’s been so far very

Nate (06:30)
Mm -hmm.


Jimmy Alvarez (06:46)
very successful. So from when I first started, we were doing about two to three people attending. Now we had about 12 people attending for these events. So it’s been kind of nice to see it all grow. So.

Nate (07:01)
That’s really cool. And so, tell me a little bit about, it’s funny you mention that because I definitely see that with just communities at large, especially when it comes to things like country clubs and social clubs. There was sort of a…

Jimmy Alvarez (07:13)
Mm -hmm.

Nate (07:20)
targeted focus on just one person in say the family to have them join the club. And I feel like it’s not just you guys, but almost a culture as a whole is evolving to include more social interaction, get more of the family involved. And so things like club membership and engagement becomes a much broader experience, especially when engaging with the clubs. One of the things that I was excited to talk to you about was when…

Jimmy Alvarez (07:24)

Mm -hmm.


Nate (07:49)
Folks actually book in their own events at the club things that aren’t necessarily sponsored by the Philmont but more folks making use of the club’s space Tell me a little bit about a recent event. Is there a one in particular that sticks out in your mind?

Jimmy Alvarez (07:59)

Well, a lot of the events here at Philmont is, I can speak, they are embedded in my mind and my memories now. But what’s nice about Philmont compared to any other clubs that I’ve worked at is that it has two different buildings. So you have a clubhouse that is meant for the members, that’s where you find the locker room, the pro shop, and the member restaurant.

Nate (08:15)
Ha ha.


I hope so.

Jimmy Alvarez (08:34)
On this other side, we have this other building that is large enough to hold about 300 people with a dance floor. Yeah, and it’s completely separate. So we can operate the membership activity without disrupting the private events or being disrupted by the private events and shutting down the membership operations. So with that, we can have

Nate (08:36)


That’s really neat.

Jimmy Alvarez (09:04)
any and every event at any point so it’s been fantastic to have that experience to be able to have 300 people on a Friday night and not have to shut down the membership operation so it’s a

Nate (09:18)
Well, and for the folks hosting the event, that’s also really, really cool. Cause a lot of times there’s a trade -off with a country club style venue where, you know, the members still have access to the same space. So there’s a little bit of like strangers in our private event, our strangers at our wedding. Whereas with you guys, there’s that, that kind of distinct separation. And so it can lead to a…

Jimmy Alvarez (09:23)


Nate (09:43)
kind of a more closed off intimate affair. So if somebody, even if they have 300 people, it’s kind of silly to call a 300 person event intimate, but when it’s all 300 people that you know, and you don’t have to be concerned with, I guess, observers, that can be really, that can definitely be something really cool and special. go ahead, go ahead.

Jimmy Alvarez (09:48)

Mm -hmm.


Well, I was going to also mention one that really does stick out is we did a 500 person event just recently. There was an outside caterer that came in and provided all the meals and we still do we allow that. So very unique. We were very open to anything and everybody, everything and everyone. So this was an Indian catering company that was looking for a venue big enough to host 500 people. And we had

Nate (10:11)
Mm -hmm.

that’s cool.

Jimmy Alvarez (10:33)
had people all over the place. I wouldn’t say the closet, but definitely one of the smaller rooms. But it was kind of fun to be able to do that here at the club. So.

Nate (10:44)
That’s really neat and yeah, Indian food is one of my favorites so I’m trying to like, my mouth is already watering. So, okay, so this sounds so, so cool. Talk to me about like planning an event at the Philmont, like if somebody wanted to get that 300 person space, what does that process look like with you guys? Who should they talk to first? What should they know?

Jimmy Alvarez (10:48)


Mm -hmm.

Arial Abaton is the person, is a catering person. We’re about to bring in a new person fairly soon, but you know, I’m always available even though I am the F and B director and in charge of all the food and beverage operation. I do a little sales myself, so I can, I’m definitely very available to plan those events, but Arial is spot on when it comes to, you know, reaching out to her. She’s very

Nate (11:16)
But that’s awesome.

Mm -hmm.

Jimmy Alvarez (11:40)
very attentive, cares a lot, and responds very quickly. Sometimes she corrects me when it comes to planning an event and reminding me, hey, by the way, you can’t do that. I’m like, that’s right, I can’t. But she’s fantastic in providing all of her knowledge in all of the events that she’s done, as well as myself, considering that I’ve been in the industry for 25 plus years.

Nate (11:50)
Ha ha ha!

Jimmy Alvarez (12:07)
So it’s kind of a fun team that’s here at Philmont that makes these events come together. Starting with Ariel, she books the event, she schedules the detail meetings, and then from there she hands it off to the operational team that oversees the event during the event. And from there I oversee the rest of the event.

Nate (12:16)
Mm -hmm.

Jimmy Alvarez (12:37)
see pretty much the entire operations with Chef and making sure that all goes as planned. So there are multiple meetings for the client to come in and ask questions and relay the details that they want to convey to the entire crew. But for the most part, it’s Ariel who’s the mastermind behind the whole thing. So she’s great.

Nate (12:59)
That’s awesome. So Ariel is the head guru, but it’s really cool to hear that you all kind of work as a team and there’s really great communication. I know a lot of folks definitely appreciate that because putting together an event or a wedding is a really big project. I have to ask, you mentioned Chef. What is your favorite thing that Chef prepares at Philmont?

Jimmy Alvarez (13:16)
Mm -hmm.

Well right now we have the pretty cookie cutter menu that we have for our banquet events, which is all very delicious. And he does the chicken piccata is one of my favorites. The salmon with the soy glaze is one of my favorites. So his hors d ‘oeuvres, I tend to sneak in and get the bacon wrapped scallops.

Nate (13:33)
Mm -hmm.



Jimmy Alvarez (13:53)
What’s nice about Chef is that if we’ve had people come to him and say, hey, we really want to have a Latin theme, so can we have XYZ? And he would be 100 % on board on making it happen. I think the most elaborate dish that he’s made.

is paella. So we purchased a big kettle, copper kettle for him to actually be able to make this request happen. So it was a great, amazing paella displayed, very well seasoned with the saffron. So it was like, man, he’s ready for it.

Nate (14:27)

You know, I’m almost sorry that I asked the question because I should have had lunch before this interview. You’re making me hungry. okay. So there’s, I wanted to ask you a little bit. I mean, we’ve talked so much about like all the unique things with, with Philmont and.

Jimmy Alvarez (14:40)

Nate (14:53)
the you know all the things that you can offer so I’m gonna ask a question sort of more specifically about your experience with event and I’m gonna open it up to all of your 25 years of experience In all of the years that you’ve been doing this is there an event that sticks out in your mind is like that was like the best event we’ve I’ve ever seen I’ve ever been a part of and what did that event look like what was it?

Jimmy Alvarez (15:04)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

That’s a very good question.

Nate (15:20)
It’s a hard question.

Jimmy Alvarez (15:21)
It is a hard question and there’s so many that come to mind. I mean, there was one event.

Again, working at the Bohemian Club, I not only helped plan but helped execute theatrical shows. So I had a band, a jazz band, a chorus, a rock and roll band. Alongside that, I also worked with lighting, sound, costumes, and set design. So not only that, but I also ran an entire dining area that sat about

Nate (15:30)
Mm -hmm.

Jimmy Alvarez (15:57)
about 1 ,100 people. So I know I had 800 employees at one point. So the one event that comes to mind is we did a show at the Bohemian Club. And this is, you know, working with the set design and working with the costumes and sound and all of all of those pieces coming together to put this show together. It was for a past president.

Nate (15:59)
my goodness.

Mm -hmm.

Jimmy Alvarez (16:27)
George Bush and they in the show they put together the his timeline of his life and that was the one where I had my hands on quite a bit and to the point where I met Mr. Mr. Bush President Bush so it was the one that I’m like wow I can’t believe I just went through this one but another event that another event that comes to mind is one where we had a

Nate (16:39)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

Well that is really good.

Jimmy Alvarez (16:57)
politician as well. It was his 80th birthday and we had an entire team work about three days for this one event. But I think what made it memorable is the team that I was working with that made it fun and interesting and something that I enjoyed doing as a team.

Nate (17:08)
a while.

That’s really cool.

Jimmy Alvarez (17:26)
I look back at those days and I’m like, hmm, that was a whole lot of fun. Here at Philmont , I’m looking around thinking, man, I really like hanging out with this person. I really like working with this person. So it’s a pretty cool experience right now to kind of build my team. And it’s our team that is making it all happen.

Nate (17:37)
That’s awesome.

That’s really, really cool. So I wanted to come full circle. It was a question that I had forgotten to ask before you had mentioned, you know, working and getting some experience in wine. You might have to be in my Somalia sometime when I come visit, but I got it. I just got to ask, do you have a favorite wine, a favorite bed, a favorite white?

Jimmy Alvarez (17:57)
Mm -hmm.


You know what’s funny is that yes I do. So living in California I had the opportunity to go and I had members from the Bohemian Club that were winemakers so Robert Mondavi, then Duckhorn and Dan Duckhorn. Cake bread as well. But in Paso Robles there is this winery called Turley, not Turley Hill.

my god, I’m blanking now with the name.

Nate (18:36)
Ha ha ha ha.

Jimmy Alvarez (18:38)
Quail Hill is one in the Russian River. It’s one of my favorites. It’s a Pinot Noir. It is one of my favorites. But if you were to ask me which one is your favorite, that would be it. But the most memorable one is at a bed and breakfast, hanging out with the wife, and fireplaces is roaring, and I’m amongst friends and family, and we’re enjoying this amazing bottle of red. And if you were to ask me what it was,

Nate (18:43)

Mm -hmm.

Jimmy Alvarez (19:08)
was, no idea. Cannot remember, but it was the best wine I had because I was amongst the family and friends in Napa Valley, late at night by the fireplace and just hanging out.

Nate (19:09)
No idea. That’s just… my goodness.

awesome. So we talked a little bit about like kind of the cool things that you’ve seen in events. I always like to ask you know folks that are experienced in working in events what they would caution folks with. So I would ask this if somebody were just planning an event you know out near you guys let’s say you know of course they’re gonna sign up to have their event at Philmont.

What would you say is like the first thing they should consider when planning, let’s say, a wedding?

Jimmy Alvarez (20:00)
Planning a wedding is one, do not freak out, be patient and understanding because it may seem overwhelming at times, but asking for friends’ help is very beneficial. Relying on the pros to handle the things that can be a little overwhelming.

Nate (20:06)



Jimmy Alvarez (20:29)
example, you know, going to Ariel and asking, hey Ariel, how do I plan an event? Great! She has already a sheet of things that you should be looking out for. Here’s the timeline that you need to… here’s your checklist for this timeline.

It’s a week away. This is all the stuff that you need to do So, you know again, the pros are the ones that you should rely on the most and family and friends that can you know take on some of the responsibility off your hands so, you know the the the bride and groom that are you know, I all hands on deck or the or all hands on on the event are the ones that tend to Look a little stress on their day of when they should be reliant

Nate (21:00)

Jimmy Alvarez (21:17)
Relax and enjoy the moment.

Nate (21:45)
Mm -hmm.

Jimmy Alvarez (21:47)
area you’re doing this union at that really counts. And even if it is raining, it’s quite all right. It’s all about the meaning behind it all. Yeah, exactly.

Nate (21:51)
Mm -hmm.

Well, they say that’s good luck. So if I’m hearing you right, step one is don’t freak out. Step two is trust the folks like us that do this for a living. I always get to say it’s like most folks get to experience one of their own wedding and maybe a half dozen of folks they love. I feel really, really blessed that when it comes to weddings, I have literally gotten to be a part of hundreds of them.

Jimmy Alvarez (22:06)

Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.


Nate (22:29)
And yeah, I mean, it kind of goes along with what we always say. It’s like, you know, no one remembers exactly what, you know, what flowers were in the, the table toppers, but everyone remembers the ceremony. Although I’ve had, had a couple of brides that say like, they only kind of remember the ceremony because they were so nervous. They kind of blacked out, but you know, that folks remember things like the fun and the locations. And honestly, if the food’s amazing, they’ll remember that too. But.

Jimmy Alvarez (22:37)
Mm -hmm. Right.


Yeah, well it was interesting. I mean, I got married about five, seven years ago. And I was I have to remember, okay, what year are we on? But

Nate (23:02)
7. Okay.

Jimmy Alvarez (23:10)
beautiful event. My wife’s an events coordinator as well and me and the being in the industry, we were hands -on and we knew what we were doing and we planned it all. So kind of towards the day, we did rely on a lot of family and friends to help out. But at a certain point, it was, you know,

Nate (23:16)

Thank you.

Jimmy Alvarez (23:39)
I don’t remember the food. And the dancing, I remember. The ceremony, I remember. But the food? Don’t remember.

Nate (23:41)
Okay. Right.

Yeah, well, and it’s, it’s, it’s just one of those things. But if the dancing is what you remember, and those moments that you got to share with, with people, that’s, you know, that’s, it’s kind of what it’s all about. There’s a, there’s a reason why photographers and videographers are so important, because the day flies by so quickly, and there’s so much going on that it’s, you know, you want those tangible things to take away.

Jimmy Alvarez (23:56)


Yeah, absolutely.

Nate (24:13)
So, okay, you can’t mention that your wife works in events and not give her a shout out. So, what’s her name? Who’s she with? Tell me all about it.

Jimmy Alvarez (24:18)
Ha ha ha ha.

Well, she’s not in events anymore, but her name is Katie Boyd Alvarez. She’s my wife and I love her to death. And she was an events coordinator for a very long time and now she’s a real estate agent. And so she’s living her life now with selling homes. So, you know, it’s interesting that, you know, being in the industry, we tend to focus on

Nate (24:25)

Hi Katie.


That’s so cool.

Jimmy Alvarez (24:52)
a lot on service. You think about service and say, all right, my job is to provide this meal.

Nate (24:54)
Mm -hmm.

Jimmy Alvarez (25:01)
there’s a difference between service and hospitality. Hospitality, it’s the service, but also providing that experience. And her experience in the hospitality industry has helped her to provide that service and also provide that experience. So she’s killing it in real estate right now. So it’s good to see that this

Nate (25:12)
Mm -hmm.

Thank you.

That’s awesome.

Jimmy Alvarez (25:31)
knowledge and experience that we’ve had does help in other industries. It’s just, it’s hard to, you know, really, you know, it’s really hard to, you know, describe it, but it is a fun thing to have is that experience of service versus hospitality.

Nate (25:51)

yeah. Well, and I, and like you said, like, you know, putting in that extra effort, that big difference between like service and hospitality and putting, you know, folks needs first. It’s kind of funny that you, you know, to tie those, the last couple of things you said together, you know, you talked about like trusting your vendors, you know, folks trust somebody who’s selling them a house in a lot of ways they probably wouldn’t expect. And that’s, you know,

Jimmy Alvarez (26:04)
Mm -hmm.

Nate (26:22)
hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions sometimes. And you know, it’s…

Jimmy Alvarez (26:25)
Mm -hmm.

Nate (26:27)
You mentioned like some folks kind of letting go and trusting their vendors, you know, a wedding, it’s pretty rare for it to cost as much as a house. But, you know, like that it’s also important that, you know, the people that really care that you bring on to your wedding to trust them, to help you kind of guide you in those decisions. If you can trust somebody to help guide you and take good care of you for a $3 million home, you can trust them with a, you know, a wedding that’s, you know, maybe 10 % of that.

Jimmy Alvarez (26:35)


Mm -hmm.

Absolutely, yeah. Yeah, about that. 1 % more like that.

Nate (26:57)
Let’s say 1%, 10%, well, don’t judge my math. So Jimmy, I really appreciate you taking the time. I have a couple of the things that I wanted to kind of note. So you, before we talked, now you actually had sent me some info on something kind of special that you’re offering folks that mentioned the podcast. And I think this one was geared more towards your membership. Would you like to tell me a little bit about the kind of special deal that you guys are have going on?

Jimmy Alvarez (27:20)
Mm -hmm.

Yeah, absolutely. Currently right now the club is providing a 50 % off on the golf membership and as well as with the social membership. So, you know, right now with Philmont growing and as far as, you know, we’re under construction right now when it comes to our new driving range that’s coming in and a new pickleball tennis court and that’s another trend that’s kind of growing. So we kind of

Nate (27:31)
that’s cool.

a meme? Yeah.

Jimmy Alvarez (27:53)
again shifted towards instead of having eight tennis courts, we’re doing four tennis and six pickleball. So they’re all coming in new this year. So with that, we’re able to, while we’re still in construction, we’re offering these amazing deals so that we can go ahead and bring in those members before we start, you know, increasing our initiation fees. So with that,

Nate (28:03)

Mm -hmm.


Jimmy Alvarez (28:23)
We’re also providing a summer preview of what we have to offer. So that includes the pool that we have, which is an amazing pool for the family. Dad’s out there playing golf while kids are hanging out in the pool. So while mom does yoga on the deck, we’re now starting to provide. So yeah. So it.

Nate (28:47)
That’s so cool. Awesome.

So something that we’re offering with folks that are either members or have their event at the Philmont, we’re actually offering at least 10 % off of all of our packages. We have special pricing and extra things that we’re gonna be throwing in. So, you know, become a member of Philmont, have your event at Philmont and give us a holler. Jimmy, it’s been a real pleasure chatting with you, man. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about you just in this call.

Jimmy Alvarez (29:08)
Mm -hmm.

Ha ha.

Nate (29:20)
Thank you so much for spending the time with me and hopefully we’ll see you at an event real soon.

Jimmy Alvarez (29:25)
Absolutely, hopefully very soon. All right.

Nate (29:28)

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