Adam Shirah

Banner Elk, North Carolina, United States

Food & Beverage Director, Sommelier, Restaurateur

As the Certified Sommelier and Food and Beverage Director for Linville Ridge, a premier private club in the mountains of Western North Carolina, I oversee five restaurant venues, as well as a special events department and a retail wine shop. I am passionate about having a successful wine program and am a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Specialist of Wine via the Society of Wine Educators.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to take sabbaticals to work hands on in the wine industry. In 2011, I worked as a harvest intern under winemaker John Clews at Clos Du Val winery.

My area of specific expertise is creating a consumer experience greater than what is expected. On the business side, I am required to provide a financial return to our developers. Managing the business aspect of restaurants is where most people fail. Consistently in implementing an effective cost system and consistency in employee training are absolute necessities.

Here’s just a bit of what we can cover in our PivotPlanet session(s):
• The importance of a strong, realistic business plan and how to develop one.
• Your role as an owner/operator. Get ready for a lifestyle change.
• How to manage costs relentlessly. It's not hard, but you can never ease up on these systems.
• The importance of a thorough training plan that you are committed to and how to develop one. Plan for training expenses and invest in the future success of your team.
• Whatever niche you decide to try and fill in your business or career, you have to intend to be the absolute best! This is your livelihood, not a hobby.
• Wine and beverage program planning.
• Sommelier certification mentoring.


I have always worked in restaurants. I began as a dishwasher for Ruby Tuesday at the age of sixteen. After a college education focusing on history and education, I realized I could fulfill my passion for education and leadership by leading large teams in restaurant settings. Eventually I was a general manager for Ruby Tuesday, and then went on to work for the PGA Tour at TPC Sawgrass.

At TPC Sawgrass, I oversaw the restaurant portion of the new 80,000 square foot flagship clubhouse, from the opening phase through the first five years of operation. At TPC we received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2008, '09, '10, and '11. In 2010 I was named the North Florida Region Best Young Sommelier by the Chaine des Rotisseurs.

The challenge of excellence is what motivates me each day. At Linville Ridge, I am surrounded by beautiful facilities and some of the most amazing views nature has to offer. It is my responsibility to make sure our members' experiences live up to these settings. I love the creative autonomy I am afforded in my position. Our menus change weekly, and we are able (and, in fact, required) to flex our creative muscles to keep our venues exciting and fresh.

In all of my professional positions I have learned whether it is insuring the quality of casual dining or member experiences, consistency in operational systems and excellence in operational standards are what make a successful company culture. The positive relationships I have with the people I lead and my consumers are what make this the career for me.