• Meet Arturo Gomez, Lessons in Passion and Prioritization

     
    POSTED August 13, 2019
     

    Nightlife and hospitality guru Arturo Gomez returns to The Underground with a few new enterprises under his belt.

ILM+E: How did you get involved in the hospitality and nightlife industry?
AG:
My first hospitality gig was at a nightclub in Chicago called the Dragon Room. That’s actually where I met my business partner, Billy Dec. We realized very quickly that we had a lot of the same passions and interests in terms of how we wanted to run businesses and what we wanted the customer experience to be like. We continued on a path for the last 20 years, building and owning restaurants and nightclubs, including The Underground.

ILM+E: You briefly left The Underground to pursue a couple of independent projects. Could you tell us a bit about them?
AG:
The first is Big Game Air, which is a luxury game day travel company. We create custom packages on private jets for groups to go to sporting events around the country. The second is Evoke Agency, which is a consulting agency focused on marketing, lifestyle and hospitality. We have clients across different industries. We’re doing everything from very specific hospitality-focused operational strategies to marketing.

ILM+E: Do these projects inform the work that you do at The Underground and vice versa?
AG:
Yes, definitely. There are a lot of new trends and behavioral things I’ve seen happening on both the agency and highend luxury experiential sides of the business that have really brought new clarity and focus to the things that we’re doing at The Underground.

ILM+E: You’ve clearly got a lot going on—how do you stay organized and productive?
AG:
For me, it’s having my calendar very strictly organized and making sure I’m tackling the things that I find real value in and that will have the highest impact. Each night, I establish the goals for the upcoming day. If I can get beyond the goals for the upcoming day, I’ll move onto the upcoming week, and if I get through the upcoming week, I’ll get into the upcoming month. I’m also up roughly at 4:30 a.m. most days.

ILM+E: What is your favorite kind of experience to create?
AG:
That’s so hard to answer. I really find a lot of enjoyment across the board. It can be as simple as producing a birthday event for a client or as crazy as doing an international trip on a private plane that’s at the absolute highest level of luxury. Oftentimes, it’s the littlest things. As long as people are smiling, I’m smiling.

Originally from Ontario, Heather Odendaal got her start in event planning early, serving as her high school’s head of social events. She ended up on the West Coast, courtesy of her studies at the University of British Columbia, and launched her career in Whistler, working for the resort in marketing and events. Today, she’s CEO of Bluebird Strategy, a boutique event planning firm, and CEO and founder of WNORTH, a global community of women who have their sights set on the C-suite.

 

You may not have seen her name among Chicago’s James Beard award nominees or caught in the buzz of another trendy eatery opening, but the ripples of Rita Dever’s culinary creations have made an impact far and wide. After cooking around the world, the Pacific Northwest native put down roots as Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ (LEYE) associate partner and corporate chef where she collaborates in the company’s test kitchen to innovate new dishes for all LEYE restaurants.

 

Denver native Keisha Makonese’s passion for planning events dates way back. Her latest gig as director of sales and corporate events at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum began nine years ago. In this role, Makonese helps oversee an average of 150 private events at Wings Over the Rockies each year, from making meetings for 20 people to annual dinners for 2,000 fun and interactive experiences.