Jason Will is a wine-lover, foodie, and the founder and CEO of Zipkick, a travel app built on a massive network of social influencers in food and travel, providing trusted reviews for 54 countries over 400 cities across the globe. Jason is a passionate travel professional that has been building Zipkick for over 4 years, and within the last year successfully pivoted to the platform that it is today.
In this episode, we cover topics from Zipkick’s history to startup life, destinations from Jamaica to Minnesota, and drinks from IPAs to whiskey. Warning: Do not listen to this episode on an empty stomach. You will have no shortage of foodie and drinking destinations around San Francisco and wine country after this episode!
Gino & Carlo’s – San Francisco, CA
This cozy Italian sports bar in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood is a local institution, having stood the test-of-time for 75 years in a city with rising rents and a revolving door of drinking destinations. The walls are decked out with sports memorabilia, and a slew of regulars make this place feel more like home than a party.
- As of this recording, Zipkick is a network of 125 influencers covering 37 countries (and growing!), with goals of reaching 5000+ influencers by the end of 2017.
- With trusted restaurant & bar reviews for over 400 cities, Zipkick allows you to simplify the planning process for your trip, as well as navigating the food & drink scene once you’re there. It learns your preferences – in terms of influencers you follow, cuisine, and dietary restrictions – and allows you to easily create and share lists with your travel companions.
- Jason built Zipkick’s initial influencer network of 125 social influencers via a very hands-on, personal process, and he discusses his plans to continue to grow the company with that intimate approach.
Picture-heavy platforms like Instagram are perfect for food influencers, and Jason discusses how that was an essential tool for building Zipkick’s network.
- Jason covers the lessons learned from pivoting away from his initial Zipkick platform as a curated travel booking platform for hotels, including being too reliant on a 3rd party data stream, and offshoring development early on in the process.
- The San Francisco startup scene is “delusional”…but you’ll need to listen to the episode to hear what that’s all about…
- Jason is a whiskey and California Cab guy. We go through a rapid-fire list of his favorite whiskey joints in San Francisco, and his favorite wineries in wine country.
- Our drinking story involves Jason saving a fellow Midwesterner from the tides of Jamaica…
- Jason shares his love for Mexico as one of the best foodie destinations on the planet. Highlights include tacos de canasta (translated as “tacos in a basket” otherwise known as “sweaty tacos”) and a Mayan liqueur called Xtabentun, the “liqueur of the gods” known for its honey and liquorish flavors.
- Mexico City should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.
- Chicago is drunk…all the time.
- Anthony Bourdain > Guy Fieri
- Of course we talk about hockey! Specifically, Mike Madano and Gordon Bombay…and Jason shares a tale of how he almost had a chance to face-off with the Minnesota Miracle Man on the silver screen.
- If Jason could grab a drink with anyone, his choice would be having a glass of wine with Fred Dame – the first Master Sommelier in the US and the “Grandfather of Wine.”
- Keep an eye out for Jason on-stage at Cobb’s Comedy Club, as standup comedy is one of his personal goals for 2017.
- What’s next for Zipkick? They’ll be focusing on building their individual communities around the world throughout 2017 and beyond.
Drinks of the Show:
Big Daddy IPA – If you’ve never heard of San Francisco’s Speakeasy Brewing, this West Coast IPA is a great intro to their brews. This is the 2nd time they’ve gotten a shoutout on the Pubcast, so make sure you pay a visit to their elaborate tap room located in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood.
- Jim Beam Bourbon & Ginger – Jason’s a whiskey-lover, and this simple, classic cocktail got us talking about all the best whiskey joints around San Francisco (see below).
- Shout-out! Allagash White Curieux – We didn’t drink it, but Jason threw in a plug! The Jim Beam brought this Belgian Tripel to mind, as this 11% ABV beverage is aged in their whiskey barrels, and is definitely a sipper…
Jason’s Favorite Whiskey Joints in San Francisco:
- Rye – Located near the intersection of Jones and Leavenworth in the Tenderloin area, it’s a stone’s throw from Union Square, so expect to find a mix of hip locals and in-the-know tourists in this trendy cocktail bar.
- Local Edition – Tucked below Market Street between San Francisco’s Financial District and SoMa neighborhood, you feel like you’re walking into another era when you descend the steps to this newspaper-themed cocktail bar. The after-work crowd loves this place.
- Alchemist Bar & Lounge – Going to a San Francisco Giants game? Alchemist is a couple blocks from AT&T Park, and is an ideal pregame destination for any fans looking to escape the typical sports bar atmosphere for something with a bit more swank.
Jason’s Favorite Wineries in Wine Country:
- Walter Hanzel – This winery in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley is only open Monday through Friday, so you won’t get your typical weekend tourist crowd. You can only go in groups of 4, and they specialize in white wines.
- Spring Mountain – Located in St. Helena, this Napa Valley winery is known for their use of mountain fruit in their wines.
- Chateau Montelena – There’s a good chance you’ve heard of this place. One of the most iconic wineries in Northern California, they are famous for their 1973 Chardonnay, which can be found in the Smithsonian as the bottle that helped globalize American wine.
- Tedeschi – This is truly a “family winery,” which is what Jason loves about this place. Originally from Italy, this 5-person family operation churns out handcrafted wines and just might be one of the most authentic, down-to-earth wineries in Napa.
Jason’s Favorite Spots in North Beach:
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana – Don’t let anyone ever tell you that San Francisco doesn’t have good pizza! This place specializes in a variety of wood-fired pizza from their stone oven, but has plenty of Italian fare (and wine!) to satisfy anyone.
- Gelateria Naia – Looking for dessert following that pizza you just had at Tony’s? I’m pretty sure Jason got the name wrong on this one, but since it’s just about 5 doors down from Tony’s, I’ve gotta think that this is the spot…
- Mama’s on Washington – While Jason notes that you can get your sweets fix anywhere along Washington, he highlights Mama’s as a must for breakfast and brunch. When you go, expect a wait, but you will be rewarded with their pancakes when you eventually get your table.
- Golden Boy Pizza – I just had to throw this in there…whether late-night or the middle of the afternoon, Golden Boy’s Sicilian-style pizza-by-the-slice is a winner any day, anytime.
Resources for When You’re Sober:
It’s about time Gary Vaynerchuk got a shout-out on this show! Jason and I are both big fans of GaryVee – a serial entrepreneur, author, wine expert, and the brash voice of social media strategy and hustle culture the world over – and Jason discusses how Gary has helped influence his own career as an entrepreneur. If you’re just learning about Gary Vaynerchuk for the first time, check out The #AskGaryVee Show on Youtube, read his most recent book #AskGaryVee, or follow him on social media.
Connect/Drink with Jason:
Visit Gino & Carlo’s:
Gino & Carlo’s is located at 548 Green St., San Francisco, CA 94133. Bar hours are 7 days-a-week 6am-2am (yes, you read that correctly).