Who knew the learning curve was barrel shaped?

A record four new franchise groups began training together at the Madison store last week.  Each of these new owners will learn the important basics for their vomFASS shops, all soon to open later this summer and fall.  Wrangling this group of rookies is National Training Director, Sue Stark.

franchisee training

(left to right)  Charlie O’Brien, Orlando; Ray Riordan, Milwaukee; David Eisner-Kleyle, VFUSA Director of Operations; Joe Pedro, St. Petersburg; Sue Stark, VFUSA National Training Manager; Jeff Ritter, St. Petersburg; Denise Burkey and son Patrick, Dallas/Fort Worth.


Sue Stark brings 20 years of corporate training background to vomFASS.  Ms. Stark also ran her own successful real estate business for 10 years making her uniquely qualified in the logistics of running a successful business.  In her capacity as National Training Manager Ms. Stark’s responsibilities include conducting a 10 day training session for all franchisees that have progressed to the retail lease signing stage.  She is also part of the Operations team which oversees and supports new owners as they set up their shop, and brings welcome “hands on” support during each shops first opening week.

Training sessions are held quarterly, or as needed, and conducted at the Madison, Wisconsin corporate center and retail shop.  The flagship Madison store has become the “working classroom” for new franchisee training.  This well-equipped, popular veteran store is the perfect setting to give trainees the exposure and real sense of running their own shop.  Here trainees learn the skills of great customer service and for the first time have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the best olive oils, vinegars, wines and spirits that led them to vomFASS in the first place.  Let’s meet the Class of Summer 2015.

The Trainees   

Mike and Denise Burkey and their son Patrick are jumping into vomFASS in a big way. The Burkey’s have a six store development agreement for the Dallas/Fort Worth area. They currently have two sites under development in Plano and Dallas. The timing of their openings will allow for one store to open first and then the second store will open about six months later.

Attending Summer 2015 training are Denise and Patrick. Denise is currently a banking executive, but is fully committed to the family venture.  Both Mike and Patrick have restaurant management experience and also excited about the launching vomFASS to this major market.  Mike will attend the training session in October, a date closer to the opening of store one. The Burkeys have met unique challenges in the DFW markets.  There are designated ‘dry’ areas where alcohol sales are prohibited.  Mike has expertly navigated around these areas with the assistance of a local alcohol attorney.  In spite of the challenges, the Burkey’s enthusiasm has not diminished one bit.


Ray Riordan has a five store development agreement for the Milwaukee and Chicago areas. Ray has methodically searched the markets seeking his first “home run” location. After several months working with local commercial brokers, Ray found the ideal location in Wauwatosa, WI at Mayfair Mall.  Ray knows from his experience as a professional poker player that finding a less that perfect location would be a big gamble. Locating his first store in the alcohol friendly state of Wisconsin is a safe bet.  Every state has their own laws regulating the sale of alcohol for off premise consumption, but Wisconsin laws make it easier and less costly to license so Ray went “all in.”


(left to right) Ray Riordan, Sue Stark, Denise Burkey, Patrick Burkey, David Eisner-Kleyle, Charlie O’Brien, Jeff Ritter and Joe Pedro

Jeff Ritter and Joe Pedro have shaken off the arctic winters of Cleveland, Ohio, and will open the first vomFASS shop in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Following the sun and their dreams these gentlemen bring the sophistication of a foodie’s palate and the savvy business skills honed from the worlds of banking, real estate and accounting.  They will both be running the store full time once Jeff leaves the corporate world.  They have also enlisted Joe’s sister will become the store manager.

Born in Venazuela and raised in New Jersey, Charlie O’Brien knew great weather when he saw it; and he saw it in Florida.  Karen and Charlie will be the 6th Florida franchise when they open the doors to their new vomFASS shop this summer.  Right next to Orlando, they have chosen a beautiful location in Winter Garden Village.  With Orlando boasting more visitors than any other theme park, the O’Briens have a built-in tourist demographic.

The Summer Class of 2015 are fast becoming friends as they bond over vomFASS training, products and people.  Trainees tend to form deep connections with one another that follows them throughout the years.  It’s through these relationships that each owner finds invaluable support and a true sense of belonging to the vomFASS family.

From Toni’s Kitchen


Why get take-out?  This Asian inspired shrimp and noodle dish is ready in minutes and has all of your favorite flavor profiles.


Ginger Sesame Noodles with Shrimp




  • 8 ounces Thin Noodles
  • 2 T. Soy Sauce
  • 1 T. Sugar
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 T. vomFASS Grape with Ginger Lemon Vinegar
  • ½ t. Hot Chili Oil or Sauce (Sriracha for example)
  • 2 T. vomFASS Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 4 Scallions, sliced
  • 1 T. vomFASS Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¼ lb. Shrimp


  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  1. Cook noodles, drain, set aside and keep warm.
  1. Coat shrimp with vomFASS Extra Virgin Garlic Oil and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes.
  1. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk soy, sugar, minced garlic, vomFASS Grape with Ginger Lemon Vinegar, chili sauce and vomFASS Toasted Sesame Seed oil. Add hot noodles and stir to coat completely.
  1. Serve noodles in individual bowls; garnish with shrimp and scallions.




Disclaimer: This information is not intended as an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, a franchise. It is for information purposes only. Currently, the following states in the United States regulate the offer and sale of franchises: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. If you are a resident of one of these states, we will not offer you a franchise unless and until we have complied with applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in your jurisdiction.