Alum opens new hot spot
Johnny Beerling is the latest alum to join the ranks
of the university’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) success
stories, freshening up the plaza on Sawmill with a new family-owned Mexican
restaurant, Someburros. Beerling, who is the general manager, graduated in 2010
with a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management and a hospitality
accounting certificate. Just three years later, he achieved his goal of opening
and managing a restaurant.
Creating culinary success
As a teenager at
Corona del Sol high school in Tempe, Arizona, Beerling discovered his appreciation
for food made from scratch. Early on, Beerling believed his passion for food would
take him where he wanted to go. That drive brought him to the university, where
he could pursue his culinary dreams.
“I knew that NAU would be a great place once I
heard about their HRM program,” he says. “I had my mind set by sophomore year
of high school.”
Beerling’s fervor for
flavor combined with the business and accounting classes available at the
School of HRM was the perfect recipe to hone Beerling’s skills and
prepare him for taking over his family’s restaurant. In addition to teaching
time and temperature guidelines, accounting classes helped him see the big
picture of running a business.
“To me, it wasn’t like school,” Beerling says. “It was going and just
learning about the job you’re going to do. I feel like that’s what college
Sharing the family tradition
Beerling convinced his uncle, the owner of the
Arizona chain, that Flagstaff was the perfect town to open a new location for Someburros, explaining that the location was key in the decision.
“We were walking
around campus and I said I think Someburros would do great up here and I’d love
to be a part of it,” Beerling says. “We’ve got a view of the peaks, we’re so close to campus. Flagstaff is
such a food town, and we just wanted to be a part of that.”
Flagstaff share a strong tradition of community. Many of them are locally owned
and operated, and more than a few HRM graduates have taken advantage of the
opportunities Flagstaff’s community provides to open their own restaurants – popular
spots like Tinderbox Kitchen and Louie’s Chicken Shack are owned and operated
by HRM graduates.
A lasting impact
The time Beerling
spent at Northern Arizona University helped him to realize his dreams, and his
experience with accessible, mentoring faculty guided him in his career and
still impacts him today.
One person who made an impact was HRM professor
Jon Hales, who worked with Beerling to help him succeed both in the classroom
and after graduation. He even helped Beerling get his first job.
“Johnny was a
wonder from the start,” Hales explains. “He had the culture, he’s a hard worker.
He was ready to start out as a manager and be one of our best.”
Hales has been
teaching at HRM for 18 years and says he loves to see his students succeed. He
understands his students and believes that they are what make the program
“It starts with the
quality of our students,” he says. “They’re hard working, they’re realistic, and
they understand the business. It’s fun to watch them after they study for a
career in hospitality and see their career paths.”