Please introduce yourself:
My name is Cory Sebastian. I have been the General Manager of Sebastians Fine Food & Spirits for the last 10 years and I entered the Guild of Sommeliers through the Master Court of Sommeliers in 2011. In addition to my full-time job, I am heavily involved with volunteering in the non-profit sector in Racine. I have the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors of the Racine Community Foundation, the Ascension All Saints Hospital Foundation, the Racine YMCA and the United Way.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in the City of Milwaukee. My father, Scott Sebastian, was a City of Milwaukee firefighter, in addition to being a chef and running a restaurant and catering company with my mother Patrice. Because of residency policies we had to reside in the city. I grew up in a low -income diverse neighborhood in a historic home that my parents worked very hard to rehab beautifully.
How did your life’s journey bring you to Racine?
In 2000 my parents opened Sebastians Fine Food & Spirits and we moved here the summer before I started eighth grade. My mother’s family was from the area and she remembers going to The Spinning Wheel as a girl with her family, which was the restaurant for decades before it became Sebastians. I worked for my parents at their restaurant and catering company in Milwaukee and began working at Sebastians as soon as we opened. Growing up the restaurant business wasn’t the path I planned on taking. I went to UW-Milwaukee and moved to the Eastside and went to school with dreams of being a sportscaster (I am a big sports fan and like to talk). While in school I started working for the Bartolottas and began my wine studies. I fell in love with the business that I never wanted to be in. I was looking for management opportunities in Milwaukee when I was 21, had a few great offers, but the position at my parents’ spot opened up and the rest is history. I was living in the third ward in Milwaukee in a beautiful highrise and packed up my things and moved to Racine.
What do you like best about Racine?
Racine has many things to offer from the unparalleled harbor, great museums, historic architecture, a fabulous zoo, but for me, it’s truly the people. I have the opportunity to interact with several hundred people a week at Sebastians, and I have never worked anywhere that guests and co-workers have been this much of an absolute joy. In addition, through my volunteering I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some of the smartest, kindest, driven, dynamic people I have ever met in my life. I am humbled every day by the impact and abilities those driving the community.
Please give some examples of how our work has made a positive impact on the community.
Professionally, I believe that our company is a standard of quality. We have been open for business for 20 years and have strived to always give it our 100 percent and I think that can set a great example for any business or person. I have been really proud of the things I have been involved with in each nonprofit. The work that all these nonprofits do is truly remarkable. The Racine Community Foundation grants to area nonprofits over $1 million each year, Ascension All Saints Hospital Foundation’s dedication to health in the community, the Racine YMCA’s programs with youth and the United Way’s focus on education are areas that any and every city need.
What is the least understood aspect about what you do?
What I really would like to make sure people understand is how much work goes into the restaurant business. It takes years of experience, endless hours of studying, 18-hour days, weeks without a day off. We typically get really good at doing paperwork at midnight over a glass of wine, finding the best television shows because there isn’t a ton to do when you are exhausted at 2 a.m., eating standing up, if at all, during one of those doubles without a break. All of us in the restaurant industry know it and do it – it’s because we love it and must have some crazy in us.
What would you like to accomplish during the next 6 months? 12 months?
I couldn’t say what’s in store, things are constantly evolving and I am still making sure my meeting calendar is all set for next week. We will see!
What’s the best way to contact you?
My friends and family mail Christmas cards at work because they know I will always be there. Our website is sebastiansracine.com or call (262) 681-5465 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.