We sat down with Barnoa owner Kim Norris to talk about the transition in ownership from Mike Trebing, her wine experience, and her hopes for Barnoa’s future.
Tell us about your history and how you got here.
KIM: I started my wine journey with Whole Foods Market. I was always a food & wine lover and when the opportunity to work for Whole Foods Laguna Niguel came about, I took it. I wanted to work in the prepared foods department but they instead put me in the Rock-It-Bar. I fell in love with the customer interactions and the fast pace of working in a restaurant. After taking several wine courses WSET 2 & 3, Introductory to Sommelier, and the French Wine Scholar course, I knew this was my calling.
What lead you to Barnoa? What was your first job at Barnoa? What other roles have you filled?
KIM: I met Mike when I was trying my hand at being a wine rep, calling and selling to restaurants and grocery stores. During one of our tasting appointments, Mike asked what I wanted to do with the rest of my career, to which I responded that I wanted to own a wine bar and he said he could possibly help make that happen. I eventually realized calling on accounts was not working out and ended up serving again at Barnoa. I loved getting to know all the customers and felt at home here.
Tell us how you and Mike came to the conclusion to sell the company to you.
KIM: Not many people know this, but Mike selling the bar to me was in the works from day one. Mike took me under his wing and helped me prepare for the future of Barnoa. We made an excellent team and together we witnessed a tremendous amount of growth in the bar.
(Above: Snapshot of an article Kim wrote for the Somme Foundation)
What was that process like? Did anything surprise you? Was anything unexpectedly easy or more difficult than you had anticipated? (a quick anecdote of one of those moments will do well here)
KIM: Every meeting we had we talked about how the transition was going to happen. He knew he wanted to sell in 5 years, I knew I wanted to buy it and had to prove every day how committed I was to make this happen. I know that if we hadn’t already had this working relationship, this transaction would have been extremely difficult. I knew the business; he wanted the business to thrive; our genuine connection made the sale and buying of this business as smooth as can be.
Now that you are a couple months in, how’s it going? What’s your favorite part? What plans do you have for Barnoa for the future?
KIM: I’m two months in and I hope to eventually incorporate some small changes once I am fully settled into this new position. I’m just trying to get a handle on everything and finish this year successfully. I knew there would be challenges but I didn’t realize exactly how much work it would be. Overall, I really enjoy learning and trying to do everything myself. The best part of my day is seeing everyone enjoying themselves and making memories with wonderful wine.