What do you do at Rhinegeist?
I run the private event spaces and execution of all its ins and outs.
Tell me a little bit more about the private event spaces…
So we’ve got two spaces, one we call the ‘Event Space’, which is 6,000 square feet, and the ‘Annex’, which is 2000 square feet. We rent them out to anyone who is looking to have an event, and it’s pretty sweet the wide range we get! Everything from corporate meetings at 7am to weddings, galas, happy hours, birthday parties, you think of it and we’ve probably done it so far.
We also let people choose their own food vendor, which is really fun and stays with our flexible mindset.
The penguin, I just absolutely love penguins. Not only are they the cutest animal ever, they mate for life and really care for each other. Get this, after the mother penguin lays eggs, if she needs to leave the nest, the father will help protect and incubate them. It’s a great team and family environment
Do they really?!
That’s what I’ve heard. I’d be super disappointed if they didn’t...
What are you most proud of about the private event spaces?
I’m proud of how well the events have gone so far, fingers crossed. The response we’ve received has been tremendous and I’m super proud of our staff’s hard work to help execute and kick butt—a lot of crazy hours, nights and weekends and they’ve been rocking it.
Sounds like it, so what do you normally sing in the shower?
I was on a really big Kid Rock kick because of his most recent album and summertime means country music.
So is that the music you've been listening to lately?
Kinda, also a lot of wedding music.
Any favorite wedding songs?
Cupid Shuffle is a hot one right now.
What’s your gotta-get-on-the-dance-floor song?
Dynamite by Tao Cruz.
Piece of apparel you wear the most?
Hoodies, I think I have one of every color. They are just so comfortable and durable.
What did you have for breakfast?
I had egg whites with jalapeño peppers and coffee.
What kind of beans you drinking these days?
In the summer I like black iced coffee, nothing else, and then in the winter it totally changes. I switch to decaf and I really don’t know why. I guess, after all that coffee, it starts to have a bit of the opposite effect on me.
Do you have a favorite person at Rhinegeist?
Megan Easlick! She is one of the Event Space Managers with me. She has not only become a really good friend of mine, but has been with me through a lot. She’s a great person to rely on as well as work and hang out with.
What are some of the challenges that get thrown your way?
What we do is different and separate from the rest of the brewery and that can be really tough. We’ve had to train an entire new staff, build up a new venue from bare bones and our work hours are when the majority of the rest of the brewery is getting off, so we’re not attending as many happy hours as we’d like these days.
Any big wins for y'all as of late?
When a client comes up to us during their event praising and thanking us, it makes all the hard work totally worth it. Expressions of appreciation on the whole are the big wins.
Where does the beauty of the brewery lie for you?
I think in the employees. Bob and Bryant say it best: none of it would be possible without the employees. It’s amazing and beautiful that we’ve gotten the people together to make this dream come true.
Do you have any nicknames?
My last name is Kokenge, pronounced like cocaine, so I could give you any of that, however, my mom calls me ‘Chelvis’ and pretty much always has.
Oh yeah, gotta say more about that...
I was Elvis for Halloween and can do a really, really good impression of him, so the nickname stuck.
Go-to Elvis phrase?
'Thank you, thank you very much.'
Do you have a famous look alike?
At one point for a couple years people thought I looked like Lindsay Lohan. Everyone kept saying it, which was tough, because it was when Lindsay was acting all crazy.
What’s something about you most people don’t know?
My initial college degree is in social work and did that for a while — I also got a culinary degree and was a chef!
So what’s your best dish in the kitchen?
Depends on who you ask, but I really like making homemade pasta, even though I try not to make the same thing twice.
Yeah, I like trying new things and am always experimenting with different dishes.