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Fabulous People: Merrisa Claridge

Merrisa Claridge is the president of Heritage 1904, a fifth-generation family business specializing in sourdough cookery, craft cocktails and Northwest spirits. Its porfolio includes Von’s 1000 Spirits (Seattle and Woodinville), Northwest Spirits (Woodinville) and Sharps Roasthouse (SeaTac). Learn about Merrisa Claridge…

Follow at: @vons1000spirits@northwestspirits; @sharpsroasthouse

Hometown: Mercer Island

First job: Hostess at Kirkland Roaster

Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: Hiking, running and skiing.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: COVID was our biggest obstacle. Our company mission is to take care of people, which includes our employees and customers. When COVID hit, we were unable to do both as we were closed down for a long period of time. Our main challenges were creating a safe working environment for our staff and encouraging customers to eat and drink in restaurants again. Our company is even stronger now than we were before COVID, partly because we had to reinvent many aspects of the organization to succeed. Our focus shifted towards growth and change. We became more employee-centric and focused on taking even better care of the guests. When I look back at the past couple years, it definitely was the most challenging time in my career. But also the time I grew the most as a leader. 

Someone who inspires you and why: My dad is definitely someone who inspires me. He is a lifelong learner and is always encouraging me to read, learn and self actualize. 

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Working in the restaurant and spirits industry is challenging as a female. To get started in this field, I recommend working with someone you admire who can coach and mentor you. I also encourage our staff to have a strong work/life balance. People in our industry can get burnt out easily. Creating a good balance between work and personal life and holding strong boundaries will really help you stay focused, healthy and succeed. 

Favorite quote: Oh, I love this question and it changes all the time. Currently one of my mantras is “Don’t walk by responsibility.”

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: Hmmmmm. A perfect night for me is cooking a great dinner with my husband, playing games with my kids while enjoying our dinner, and then watching a funny 80’s movie with my family. 

What makes someone fabulous: I always respect people with discipline. Another mantra I love is “discipline = freedom.” When I observe someone with discipline, I always observe their behaviors and try to learn from them. 

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