The Happy Hour Show by Spiritus Law
Season 2; Episode 3
"New Generation, New Industry: Featuring Mayor of West Miami, Eric Diaz Padron" Hosted by Marbet Lewis and Robert Lewis.
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DISCLAIMER **This show is intended for entertainment purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.
Read full segment transcription below:
[00:00:09.480] - Speaker 1
Welcome, everyone, to our third episode of the Happy Hour Show podcast. I'm Marbet Lewis.
[00:00:15.820] - Speaker 2
And I'm Rob Lewis.
[00:00:18.130] - Speaker 1
Thank you all for joining us today. We have an interesting discussion today and a very special guest that we're happy to bring into our show with today to offer a very unique perspective. He's had a very unique, stellar career. It's amazing what he's been able to accomplish so far. And so we're going to give him the opportunity to introduce himself, but just by a little bit of background. We're happy to introduce Eric Diaz Padron. He is currently serving as the mayor of the city of West Miami. So it's a very big deal. And Eric, if you'd like to give just our audience a little bit introduction and background on yourself, that'd be great.
[00:00:57.200] - Speaker 3
Sure. I was a commissioner starting in 2019 for the city of West Miami. At that time, I was a second year law student at the University of Miami School of Law. The west city of West Miami is kind of nestled between the city of Miami and the city of Coral Gables. So it's Coral Gables, Miami and West Miami, and they meet at a point on 8th street in 2022. So April of this year, I took the opportunity to run for mayor, and it was a tough race, but I ended up winning. So that made me the youngest mayor in the state of Florida right now. I mean, every day I get older, so we'll see how long that lasts. But for now, I'm the youngest parent in the state of Florida. And because of that, I have a very interesting different perspective than a lot of my colleagues. We all bring something to the table, but my colleagues are generally have been there for 20 years for the most part, and then I'm coming in, obviously a much newer. So it's an interesting balance and it's an interesting dynamic for sure.
[00:02:10.630] - Speaker 1
And I think that's what makes you such a special guest for us today, because you do have a very unique perspective, not just in your current role as Mirror, but just in your current role as a millennial, really, and your perspective on business and really how business has changed really over the past few years because of that millennial influence. Rob and I often speak about the different kinds of products that are coming across our desk now, which are very different in terms of alcohol law. I'm sure Chelsea, our wonderful marketing manager, gives you a little background on our firm and what we do, but we really focus our entire practice on alcohol. And alcohol law not something I knew existed when I went to law school, other than engaging and drinking it. But when I met Robin, I learned more about the practice area. It was very dynamic because of the different types of clients that we have the opportunity to represent, and a big part of that is representing producers. So we get involved in a lot of new product launches and innovative ideas. And I think certainly over the past 510 years, we've seen a shift in the types of products that are popular.
[00:03:22.020] - Speaker 1
And really, I think that's very much based on the millennial trends and what millennials are craving. And it's a very unique perspective, I think, from what we've seen in the past. Do you have anything to add to that?
[00:03:36.590] - Speaker 3
Well, yeah, I mean, I think you're obviously right, and it's obviously you would be right because you see it every day. But I think, as you know, and most people can tell, the liquor and spirits industry and the alcohol industry in general actually is very consolidated. Right. So usually these big brands have large distributions of a lot of products. And now, because of the millennial impact, you're seeing a lot of people being able to break into the market with new brands for seltzers or for any of these new innovative I don't say innovative, but new ways to consume. And it's leaving a lot of the door open for a lot of these social media influencers or name brands, even in case of Patagonia and some of these other companies to come in and fill the void that wasn't being taken by the big operators for the new categories.
[00:04:36.880] - Speaker 1
Definitely. And you bring up a good point, because Rob and I have spoken about this too. Right. We have to talk about there's two really main areas where millennials have influenced the market and they are influencing business, and that's with taste. They have a different taste for product, but it's also a convenience factor. It's a change in the way that they consume alcohol. Right.
[00:05:00.520] - Speaker 2
I think it's almost like a complete philosophical change. I think years ago, you saw a lot of mainstream interest in what we call like traditional alcoholic beverages, like your whiskey, your bird, and your vodka had a run, and there's countless vodka brands that were pouring on the market. And now we're kind of seeing this philosophical shift where you have the ready to drink cocktails, the hard seltzers, and now we're even seeing nonalcoholic beverages like Heineken Zero and the major players coming out with just basically drinks that taste like alcoholic beverages but without alcohol to accommodate, like the different demands of what we say, the younger drinkers that are coming up. What are your thoughts on that? What do you think is behind this change, in your opinion?
[00:05:50.410] - Speaker 3
Yeah, I think it is. I think it's completely healthy lifestyle change. I do the megaphonetis, and my classes are typically nine women in me, so I have an insight into what's going on there. But what you see is and I think without looking at any data, just looking at it from them being operated society ten years ago, you didn't see these exercise centers that were geared towards women, for example. Right. Let's just take that as an example. Women that were in shape, would walk and they would eat very well and almost not at all. But now you're seeing a lot of big sector of women, younger women, going to the gym and actually do exercises that build muscle and tone and all these things that they weren't really doing before. And I think a lot of that is just building more healthy lifestyle across the board and that filters into how you consume alcohol. So you had these girls in college. When I was in college, they would get the vodka waters, right? And now there's more options in these seltzers and these other drinks that are or even these low alcohol drinks and other categories that are kind of filling that void or that need in different ways.
[00:07:14.380] - Speaker 1
Aside from that, I think there's also a shift in how people consume not just what they're consuming, but where they're consuming it. Have you seen that? I know you just started really your run as mayor, but in the city of West Miami, have you seen a change kind of in the types of businesses that are opening up or the types of businesses that are becoming popular? I mean, I know when I was in law school, when I was in college, when I was younger, the idea was to go out. You wanted to go out, you wanted to go to the bar, you wanted to go to the nightclub. And now that's kind of shifted more so to more quiet environment loungey, let's drink at home, back to the house party type concept.
[00:07:54.900] - Speaker 3
Yeah, I mean, West Miami, our establishments that cater to that crowd are typically catered to an older generation. So we have some very locally famous wine bars, things of that nature. And that hasn't changed too much, right? So that hasn't been impacted by really young consumer trends, but someone who operates in society as even being at 27 years old, I can tell you that bars are having to adjust to create more experiential nights where it's not just music, they have other events to get people in the door. The typical beer bar, I think, is not something that my generation would just kind of split between Gen Z and millennial, because I was born 95 and I think the split is 96. So I see a little bit of both. I think that the typical beer bar is just not going to make it without having not only different categories, but different reasons to go. And that's going to take some time because again, there's a massive market of people who still enjoy going to that wine bar. But I think it's coming.
[00:09:08.680] - Speaker 1
Yeah, we see it from a different perspective. I mean, some of us have reached 50, some of us are approaching 50.
[00:09:16.700] - Speaker 2
Beard Bars and the Rats Keller at the university when they were in college.
[00:09:21.050] - Speaker 1
Yeah. And even when we go out now, we see the change. You see the change in the menu. You see the change in just the environment and how places are being set up and what they're offering in terms of a drink menu or a bar. There was this phase where that restaurants went through and even hotels where they wanted this huge, massive bars everywhere. And you go into a restaurant and the main attraction was the massive bar in the middle of the restaurant. And now that's starting to shift, we're starting to see that scaled back a bit to allow for more lounge type seating. And even the method of ordering has changed and it's very unique. We're seeing it all across Florida, I know in a city like West Miami because of where you're located, which is a unique location because you're kind of nudged in there between two very populous cities that have been around for a much longer time in terms of being incorporated and being settled. So it's interesting to see whether or not that's spilling over as well into West Miami.
[00:10:24.690] - Speaker 2
Yes, it seemed like the change, even if you were in talking about beer, we thought perhaps the craft beer industry would kind of be the salvation, meaning that the taste and consumer demands kind of shifted from mainstream malt beverage products to craft and then people wanting craft and then restaurants and hospitality venues like rushing to put local kegs on top from craft brewers. And then what we're seeing almost overnight is a shift to a completely different product segment in the alcohol industry, which is you're ready to drink cocktails and your low alcohol, low calorie cocktails and of course, the zero alcohol content which.
[00:11:14.780] - Speaker 1
Plays in well to the more loungey type environments, quick service, more casual. People are starting to, I think because of the millennial influence, there's a little bit more brand loyalty, I feel, in terms of what millennials drink and what millennials buy. Have you noticed that as well?
[00:11:33.910] - Speaker 3
Yeah, on that point in general, when I joined the commission in 2019, I remember having discussions about trying to improve the entertainment corridor and just trying to attract and what can we incentivize to attract craft breweries to come in and maybe have a tap room on the corridors. And since then, we kind of have to reevaluate and see is that something that we still want to push forward and really aggressively pursue or is that something else? And that just shows you how quick everything is evolving because like you said, the craft breweries were the rage and they were supposed to be the savior of everything and now it's another player. I mean, craft breweries are still popping up. There are some very nice ones coming to winwood and say, Miami and even Coral Gables, but it's not the rage that everyone thought it was going to continue to be. And I think a lot of it is your advertising and marketing. Right. And I know you guys probably do it a lot in your practice, is these influencers you saw it a lot people with a lot of celebrity power have always been able to influence consumer demand.
[00:12:50.220] - Speaker 3
Right? You saw it with Casa Amigos, with George Clooney or one of these guys, but you've seen it across every industry for all time. Right, but I think now you're seeing it with these influencers from TikTok and YouTube, and they're actually coming, and they know how to speak to this younger audience. Now, they need people like you to tell them how they're allowed to speak to the younger audience, but they know how to speak to them in a way that's driving a lot of changes. Some of these brands that I know are directly owned by some of these players. So I think it's going to take some time for the industry to catch up and figure out how to advertise it. But I think at its core, they're coming up with a funeral way to market the product. Where craft has always been a habit, it's a lure because my generation, the generation following mine, really likes authenticity and they like to know where their stock comes from.
[00:13:54.800] - Speaker 1
Absolutely. And I think that definitely plays into building brand loyalty. And I agree with you. I think the issues that craft brewers have had and really appealing to that growing influence that Millennials have and how Millennials really are dictating how things are advertised and how information is disseminated, what.
[00:14:15.760] - Speaker 2
I think is almost amazing is how the alcohol industry is always constantly evolving and reacting to consumer demands.
[00:14:22.930] - Speaker 1
Yeah, and one of those big things is influencers. I mean, influencer marketing is really dominating the advertising world. And there are so many restrictions on how alcohol can be advertised and who can advertise alcohol and the images that you can project when you advertise alcohol that we hear from our clients how difficult it is sometimes to work with influencers because of what you just said. They tend to be younger. They tend to appeal to a younger crowd. And that's not necessarily what you want to be mixing into your alcohol advertisement. You want to be appealing to a larger craft. So there's some conflict there that I think definitely impacts how craft breweries are marketed, how they can market. And I think the other big factor is really cost. The craft industry, on the whole, beats on the spirit side or on the brewing side, tends to not have those expansive, never ending marketing budgets that you would see some of the more dominant players have. So everything that they do really increases the cost of their product, which is already starting at a higher price point than, say, you know, your average budweiser product. And millennials tend to be very cost conscious.
[00:15:31.870] - Speaker 1
So there's also an inherent conflict there when you're trying to create an entertainment concept or revive an entertainment district, resting that on a craft distiller or a craft brewery is that consideration? It's the price point. And we've seen the same thing with clients we've had and craft brewers that have tried to expand into tasting rooms or even restaurant type concepts. You have to consider the price point and through the audiences and to the.
[00:16:01.220] - Speaker 3
Point of the price point. I mean, I think some of this stuff regarding climate change is going to affect, let's say, the wine market, right, on the vintages. They're going to go up and it's going to limit access to really quality alliance for the generation that comes after mine, that is much more price conscious even than mine because of factors that are probably related to pandemic and some crazy things in society that another generation dealt with at those ages. But when you're looking at that, like I told you, I was born 95, I'm split. But like you probably noticed, I've been in rooms of people much older than me for my entire adult life, right? Naturally, in order to do the things I wanted to do, I needed to be in rooms where I wasn't really around my peers. So I'm a traditional, like go to the bar and order a beer, whatever is on the menu, or order a wine. But I don't think a generation following mine or even my generation really is an offer like that. And I think a lot of that is they're not going to have access to the stuff that creates brand loyalty, especially on the wine site for these vanishes because they're just unless you are making incredible money, which you don't usually do when you're coming out of college, you're not going to have access to those price points.
[00:17:24.730] - Speaker 1
Absolutely. And I think a big push with the craft industry was creating that brand loyalty and kind of recreating the place where everybody knows your name type concept. Using craft breweries to be able to do that and build on that, I think it's just the price point of their products sometimes just makes that not really realistic, I think, for the average community. And we've seen that even with cities, when we've helped plan or we've helped change zoning codes, for example, or change alcohol codes for any kind of city, that's something we've always taken into account. You know, when we speak to city officials and zoning officials and they're thinking of these concepts coming in because we've seen a lot of them fail for that particular reason. They stick them in in the suburbs and perfectly finer way. They think this is going to become the community hotspot and they just don't realize it doesn't mesh in well with the age of the community that's there and where they're actually going to be going to eat. The concept could be totally fine. The restaurant could be great, you could have a great menu, you could have a great selection of beers or of products.
[00:18:35.810] - Speaker 1
But if the price point isn't there with the community that you're serving, people just aren't going to go. I think those days, especially since the pandemic have kind of passed a bit where people are willing to overpay or oversplurge for something that they feel they could get a better deal somewhere else. And anyone that watches Tictac knows that the concept and the goal of millennials really is to find the bargain out.
[00:19:04.030] - Speaker 3
There and the convenience, right? I mean, you're seeing these apps drizzly, I think, sold through over for one $1 billion. These convenience apps. I know I spend too much in a breeze.
[00:19:17.900] - Speaker 1
We all do.
[00:19:21.800] - Speaker 3
And I haven't used it through alcohol. But the convenience factor is going to change. I mean, a lot of things, right, you're seeing more people stay at home and consume in smaller gatherings at home, or you're also seeing just the convenience when it comes to liquor stores. How is that going to change how they operate, this idea that you can have alcohol delivery straight to your house very quick and conveniently?
[00:19:48.210] - Speaker 1
Absolutely. And you bring up a good point, and I think we'll be ending our discussion with this today, is really because of these delivery apps, which really do come from a lot of the Millennial influence on what we're focusing on today and these delivery apps and how they forced regulations to change. Here in Florida in particular, it took us a very long time on the state level with the Division of Alcohol, Beverages and Tobacco and even our legislators to really embrace that concept of mobile alcohol delivery and mobile ordering. There's a lot of fear surrounding it, for obvious reasons. I think it's understandable to have initial fear with the concept, and we've seen those regulations evolve, especially on the state level, to where now we allow it, but there's all these little nuances in there, and then you also have the local codes to kind of contend with. Do you see the city of West Miami kind of taking a path to regulate these issues? And especially when alcohol can be delivered, how it can be delivered, adding any requirements to the state?
[00:20:58.580] - Speaker 3
No, we're not getting involved in that, and I don't think cities really should. I think if cities do, they're going to create a whole set of jurisdictional issues that I mean, when does the city westmine end and the city might be beginning? If you sell it to an average person, they'll never figure it out. So it would be it would create a bad jurisdictional situation. I would say that one thing I'm watching, and I wouldn't necessarily say cities are watching in general, but is the idea of this cannabis infused alcohol or not alcohol? Cannabis infused drinks? Because obviously in Florida, we have this weird medical marijuana law that is a little loose, so we're not anywhere near that yet. But if you look at the marijuana law, the cannabis regulations for dispensaries, you know, where the Florida has put it, is basically you either can allow dispensaries or you can embed Spencers completely, which is city of Westminster taking that position? Or if you allow Canada centuries, you have to treat them as pharmacies and you're in your zoning. So you basically either have to say no, not at all, or yes, and you have to be treated as pharmacies and for the zoning regulations.
[00:22:22.230] - Speaker 3
So when that eventually comes, because I think eventually it will come to the United States, and if it hasn't already in other states, this cannabis infused drinks. But if Florida eventually allows it, that will be another thing that will tackle from a policy perspective on how people, how much they're willing to accept it in stores and what that means. And I think there is going to be more challenging for cities to take a step back because I think where alcohol has been here for a long time, since prohibition, cannabis has a little bit of a different feel for a lot of residents on the generational split. So that's going to be an interesting challenge eventually. Who knows when it comes, it is.
[00:23:05.870] - Speaker 1
I think cities are going to have to really draw a lot from the past and historical how cities dealt with, for example, like dry counties and how alcohol could be passed through those counties, how it could be consumed, how it could be brought in, because that created a lot of similar issues. You know, you had a lot of counties that said, we want to be dry. We don't want either. We don't want liquor stores here. We don't want onpremise establishments here, and the difficulties that that created. And maybe it's a situation where it's time to learn from the past what didn't work there, to see what can work when you're trying to regulate within a jurisdiction but the surrounding communities allow it. And that is the issue that we have with a lot of alcohol regulations. And the conflict between the state and the local laws is typically the most difficult issue, at least for our clients to overcome. Because, for example, if you're dealing with a chain that's going to have restaurants across the state, they want uniformity on some level, especially with how they can take delivery orders and where alcohol can be delivered to.
[00:24:09.530] - Speaker 1
I mean, imagine the complexities if you had a restaurant in the city of Miami, but the delivery regulations were different in the city of Miami and West Miami and Cruel Gables, it's kind of how do you manage that? And like what you're saying, cannabis infused alcohol, it's going to come to the point where it's in a similar situation because if it's allowed generally, for example, in Miami Dade County, but not within the municipalities, how do you regulate it, how do you enforce it? And then at that point, it really is about cities kind of coming together, learning what didn't work with dry counties, what the difficulties work and how that can be improved to create regulations that work to protect, you know, the communities that don't necessarily want it on their block.
[00:24:52.700] - Speaker 2
I think there's a lot of parallels between the legend cannabis industry and the alcohol industry and how are we going to regulate that in states where adults cannabis use is legal and what system of regulations do we set up. And I think you bring up some very good points as to will that day be in Florida, and if so, when and how is our state going to deal with that issue?
[00:25:18.170] - Speaker 1
Yeah, and I mean, I'll put it out there. It's a podcast. It's meant to be a little bit controversial. A big problem that I think cities are going to have is how the state has dealt with cannabis, even the way that it's been legalized from a medicinal standpoint. It's not like every other drug, right? It's kind of being treated like it's a medical product, but it's not being really heavily regulated in a sense, just like alcohol or like other products, you know what I mean? Because of what you said, it would be treated like a pharmacy, not a liquor store, you know what I'm saying? And so a liquor store has many more regulations that go with it than, say, a pharmacy is, and a lot more restrictions as to where you can place a liquor store as opposed to where you can place a pharmacy.
[00:26:05.970] - Speaker 3
Yeah, I'll tell you, I don't think it's controversial to say that the way the law was passed, what was closer to amendment, the way that was passed was kind of ridiculous. Look, I understand the people who need it for medical reasons, and that is a legitimate issue. Now, whether it's recreational or not should have been decided on the face, on its face, because we're basically treating it as recreational. But again, they're not having the same regulations as the alcohol industry, which isn't fair, frankly. They don't have the same advertising issues. They don't have the same where they can put them. And on top of that, we're not even getting taxed. They're not even getting taxed bringing in tax revenue to the state like they should be because it's medicinal. So it's not taxed, right? So it's frankly kind of ridiculous. I think it should eventually be brought to the ballot one way or the other. You know, I don't really care what anyone's stances, but it should be brought as it's supposed to be, right. Where this is not this is not a medicinal thing. This is a recreational thing that we're posting. I'm all for with this marijuana.
[00:27:19.530] - Speaker 3
I won't play my position on recreational marijuana, but it should be brought to the voters as recreational if that's the way it would be treated.
[00:27:30.300] - Speaker 1
Exactly. Nations work for communities so that communities can also regulate and have a say in where establishments go, just like they would with any bar also on distribution.
[00:28:00.170] - Speaker 3
I mean, as you guys have, a three tier system for alcohol distribution doesn't apply right now for cannabis the industry is put at a lot of advantages because it's not being treated as recreational, but it's getting all the benefits of being recreational. So I think that has to be addressed because it's just not putting an equal playing for your field with the alcohol industry.
[00:28:24.290] - Speaker 1
And hopefully once we get there, local municipalities will have the flexibility that they've had to regulate in other industries and be able to decide for their communities, this is where it's acceptable to place an establishment. This is where it's not. This is how far away we want it from a church or a school or a daycare center and be able to impose there's restrictions that you don't see now. You kind of see the dispensaries popping up everywhere. Kind of like, how did that get approved to go there? When I know we've had to go to four public hearings just to have a small restaurant with a beer wine license. I'm going to four hearings for this, but this place just kind of popped up with not even one public hearing. So I think we're going to have to bring you back probably in a few weeks to talk about this issue because it's definitely another issue that's a very much a hot topic in the alcohol industry because once it does go wreck, you have this giant new competitor that the alcohol industry is going to be forced to deal with and how that will integrate and merge.
[00:29:28.340] - Speaker 1
But we so much appreciate your time today, Eric. I think you have a great unique perspective to take your city to where it needs to go. And I think they're blessed to have you kind of leading the effort and taking them into the innovative world we're all merging into and all having to learn how to readjust and relive, really, after the pandemic. Thank you to all of our audience.
[00:29:55.100] - Speaker 2
Yes, thank you very much on this.
[00:29:56.970] - Speaker 1
Rainy day that we're having here today. We hope you've enjoyed the happy hour with us today. And we'll be back with our next segment in just a couple of weeks and will absolutely be having Merrier's Padrone back onto the show, hopefully sometime soon. Thank you so much for joining us today.
[00:30:15.640] - Speaker 3
Yes, thank you.
[00:30:16.950] - Speaker 1
End of segment.