Class is in session: ‘The Dave Grutman Experience’ returns to FIU

Leave it to “Groot” to have a lineup of guest appearances on the first day of class.

Guest speaker Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports and entrepreneur Dave Grutman at 'The Dave Grutman Experience' class at FIU's Biscayne Bay campus. Photographer: Julian Otavo
Guest speaker Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports and entrepreneur Dave Grutman at 'The Dave Grutman Experience' class at FIU's Biscayne Bay campus. Photographer: Julian Otavo (Copyright 2021 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

NORTH MIAMI, Fla. – If you follow Dave Grutman on Instagram (or have taken note of any of the billboards along the streets of the Design District), you’ll know that Grutman, known as “Groot” or just “Grutman,” has replaced Pitbull himself with being “Mr. 305.”

The nightclub owner, restaurateur, and now, hotel-owner owns a hospitality company called Groot Hospitality, where he and his partners own some of Miami’s most notable and extravagant establishments across Miami-Dade County, including Komodo, LIV, Swan, Papi Steak, and more.

Thanks to a partnership with FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, the restaurant owner and entrepreneur is teaching a course titled, “The Dave Grutman Experience” for the second time to students hoping to step their foot into the industry themselves. After its inaugural course in 2019, the class is back in session after having to skip an academic year due to COVID.

On Tuesday, March 2, Grutman gave his students an overview and glimpse into his work ethic, background, and lifestyle at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus. Due to COVID precautions and restrictions, the class was held outdoors with socially distanced seating between each student. “I became a club owner at 32,” he says. “The step I took [to get there] was learn every position in the bar and restaurant.”

Grutman made it clear that Tuesday’s class was an overview, and would dive into lessons throughout the semester. “We know there’s going to be hard times, right? We know there’s going to be ups and downs,” says Grutman. “These are the things you’re going to need to know when opening the place.”

And in true Grutman fashion, the class didn’t lack any special appearances. From his own partners (who have now made names for themselves on Instagram, including David Einhorn, known as “Papi,” who is known for grilling steaks loved by DJ Khaled himself, Mr. Purple, known as “Purp” or “Purple Miami,” a nightlife promoter turned business partner, and last, but not least — Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports.

Portnoy was brought out onto the stage halfway through the class as a surprise guest speaker. Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports, has amassed over 3.5 million followers on Instagram. Grutman is known for his knack for creating relationships with celebrities and having the celebrity seal of approval on his endeavors. Portnoy is no exception.

“Again, you want to find people that you find special, and see what you guys can do together,” says Grutman. “Or, how they can complement you. But it doesn’t always have to be someone who’s bigger or more important than you. It can be someone you see a special talent in.”

Grutman’s key advice to the students was to surround yourself with people who push you and inspire you to be better every day.

“I’m so lucky that I have a group of people that push me to be better. Right? We can just sit back with what we have and make a great living. But, we’re not. We’re pushing the envelope farther, and farther,” he says.

Grutman told the students that he owed part of his success to his knack of discovering talented partners and colleagues in the industry – and keeping them in his circle. “I’m not intellectually intelligent, I’m emotionally intelligent, and that’s the one trick I have, is that I am able to identify greatness.”

FIU students who are interested in attending his class should log onto their student portal and add themselves to the HFT 4932 waitlist. For more information, reach Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at (305) 919-4521. Students have until Monday to add/drop classes.

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