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.

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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.