Upcoming Events:

Business Luncheon BJ's Story


Cornell O.C. Business Luncheon at the Center Club:

Staying Fresh, Relevant and Engaged in the COVID Era!
BJ's Story: 
From Evolving to a $1 Billion Chain to Surviving COVID


Wednesday, December 1, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm


Hello Cornellians!

We are back and overjoyed to invite you to our first business luncheon in almost 2 years

Please join us as our accomplished guest speaker, Mr. Alex Puchner, Senior Vice President, Brewing Operations at BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. tell us the amazing story of BJ's.

Since their humble beginnings back in 1978, BJ's continued to refine their brewhouse experience to make their restaurants a place where you can make the most of any meal. But it is not an easy feat to stay relevant and grow to a $1.1 Billion public company in an industry and at a time when change was happening at a dizzying speed. Add to that, they not only survived but thrived through the complexity of an almost 2-year long pandemic, which sent the restaurant industry in a tailspin.

How does BJ's do it? Alex Puchner is in the middle of keeping BJ's and their brewhouses alive and well and tells us how he and the company manage relevance, growth and survival during and post COVID era.

Event Summary:

  • Overview of Alex's path after Cornell
  • BJ's in a nutshell: initial positioning, current size, sales, market penetration, prototype restaurant 
  • How did they get here? BJ's ongoing evolution as a restaurant brewery concept over 25 years 
  • Surviving COVID: Impact on BJ's sales and operations, their evolution to adjust to the new 'normal'
  • Trends and current challenges in casual dining and the craft beer market
  • BJ's strategic direction and growth plans in 2022 and beyond
  • Q&A

11:30 AM Luncheon will begin promptly
12:00 PM Presentation/Q&A
1:30 PM   Luncheon will end promptly

Location: The Center Club,  650 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Cost: $40 members and $45 non-members,
          includes valet parking at Center Club.

Become a member and SAVE! Click here to sign up for membership.

Event Contact: Gaye Tomlinson, MBA ’05, Chair of CAAOC Business Lunches,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Alex Puchner has been in brewery management for BJ’s since starting up their first brewery restaurant in Brea, CA in 1996. Alex currently oversees BJ’s beer production in 6 breweries supplying 212 restaurants. Other key responsibilities include new brewery design and start-up, R&D, QA and beer education.  Prior to BJ’s, Alex’s experiences include brewery design and start-up of Laguna Beach Brewing Co., Newport Beach Brewing Co. and Westwood Brewing Co.  His professional brewing career began in 1993 as brewer for Huntington Beach Beer Co.
Before venturing into a career in brewing , Alex worked at Mattel, Inc. as a Product Manager from 1992 to 1993 and was a Consumer Research Manager/Analyst from 1986 to 1988.
Accolades:  BJ’s beers have earned over hundreds of prestigious awards, including 38 medals at the Great American Beer Festival.
Beer Judging:  BJCP National Beer Judge (Certified since 1990).  Many years of judging experience at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup.
Homebrewing:  Started homebrewing in 1986.  Former member of the Maltose Falcons.
Alex majored Psychology at Cornell University and holds an MBA from University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business.


Holiday Mixer 2021

Cornell Holiday Mixer 2021



They can’t just be having fun in Ithaca! 


The Cornell Alumni Association of Orange County invites all Cornellians to join in the festivities of our Annual Holiday Mixer.  

CAAOC will be hosting this private event at the Tower Room inside Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine. 

Join us for drinks and hors d’oeuvres! Meet and mingle with fellow alumni!




Date: December 2, 2021 (Thursday)

Time: 6-8pm

Location: Andrei’s - Tower Room- 2607 Main St, Irvine, CA

Cost (entrance fee & hors d’oeuvres):

                Early Bird: $20  (RSVP before 11/30)

                Regular Entrance: $30

               …plus whatever you care to pay for drinks

Parking: Valet or Complimentary self parking w/validation in structure behind Andrei’s 



Sunday, December 5th at 9:00 AM

Come join fellow Cornell Alums and friends for an invigorating morning hike in the foothills of Orange County the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Take advantage of the spectacular winter weather to check out some great vistas and enjoy a nice morning hike.


When:  Sunday, December 5th, 9:00 AM


Where:  Bell View Loop Trail



Distance:  2.5 Miles


Duration:  1.5 hours


Difficulty:  Moderate


Description:  Bell View Trail Loop is a 2.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail that features nice views and plenty of coastal scrub, plus occasional wildlife. The trail is primarily used for hiking and running and is accessible year-round.  This hike will take roughly an hour and a half, and is suitable for children 8 and older.


Directions:  The trailhead is on Robinson Ranch Road in Trabuco Canyon.  Take Santa Margarita Pkwy through Rancho Santa Margarita, turn left on Plano Trabuco Road and then turn right into the Robinson Ranch neighborhood on Robinson Ranch Road.  Pass Vista Road and park along Robinson Ranch Road, before the community sign for “The Promontory”.



What to Bring:  Wear shoes with good traction and bring lots of water.  Sunscreen and a visor or hat are recommended as there is very little shade on this trail.  No dogs and no bikes allowed.



The group will leave the trailhead no later than 9:10 AM.  Looking forward to seeing you there!



Hiking is a rewarding and pleasant activity in nature, but there are certain dangers you should be aware of. Those include, but are not limited to, trip and fall injuries, bee stings, poison oak exposure, and possible unpleasant interactions with mountain lions, coyotes, snakes, and/or ticks. By signing up for this event, you agree to hold harmless the hike organizer, assistant organizers, and other participants for any injuries sustained during this hike.

You acknowledge that we are not professionals.

You assume responsibility for yourself and your safety.