The UI’s isn’t the only star-studded alumni club Paul Sledd (’05) belongs to. The senior manager at Snap Inc. — whose products include Snapchat — is also a proud alum of Bacaro, the downtown Champaign restaurant that churned out one of Wine & Spirits magazine’s 2016 sommeliers of the year (Caleb Ganzer, ’09) and Blue Apron’s director of wine (former owner Thad Morrow).
“I am never surprised to hear of folks from Bacaro making exciting moves in the world,” says Sledd, who worked there for three “life-changing” years (2005-07) while attending grad school at the UI.
“Professionally, Bacaro was a place to learn and explore,” he says. “Thanks to the support of the community, we were able to attract truly remarkable wine and food experiences rivaling much larger urban scenes.
“Since the restaurant was chef-owned and very small, it was also a wonderful place to learn about the ups-and-downs of being part of an entrepreneurial venture. I wouldn’t experience quite the same feeling again until I started working at Snapchat in 2015.
“Personally, I enjoyed meeting inspirational people at Bacaro. Foremost, I began dating my wife when we met in the restaurant. One of my closest friends, Theresa Dobson, also met her husband there, and she and I still work together at Snap Inc. today.
“Working at Bacaro gave me the opportunity to serve dinner to noteworthy people like Roger Ebert, John Malkovich and many other university alumni, friends and visitors. Of course, days like Valentine’s, Mother’s Day and graduation were big events for the business too.”