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Former music exec crafts a niche in Arizona bar and restaurant insurance

Arizona Republic logo Arizona Republic 4/4/2019 Georgann Yara

David DeLorenzo had his dream job working in record distribution for Warner Bros. in Los Angeles and running his own marketing company promoting artists and bands.

But when technology changed the music industry, he found himself needing to change his career tune.

With Apple Music coming on to the scene along with other streaming services, DeLorenzo said it took a toll.

“When the industry changed, it wasn’t the glamorous or fun job it had been,” said DeLorenzo, whose office walls hold gold and platinum record reminders of his past career.

The native Phoenix resident returned home to work for his father’s insurance company. His dad was mostly a home and auto insurance guy, DeLorenzo said. The concept didn’t excite someone who spent his career, dating back to his college days at Arizona State University, in the entertainment industry.

But instead of settling, DeLorenzo incorporated his personal interest in restaurants and the hospitality industry to craft a niche for which he is equally, if not more, passionate about that his previous profession.

a man looking at the camera: David DeLorenzo's office walls at the Bar and Restaurant Insurance, The Ambassador Group hold gold and platinum record reminders of his past career. “When the industry changed, it wasn’t the glamorous or fun job it had been,” he says. © Provided by Gannett Co., Inc. David DeLorenzo's office walls at the Bar and Restaurant Insurance, The Ambassador Group hold gold and platinum record reminders of his past career. “When the industry changed, it wasn’t the glamorous or fun job it had been,” he says.

The result is the Bar and Restaurant Insurance division of The Ambassador Group, the Phoenix insurance firm started by his father, Ed, in 1988. DeLorenzo launched that division 16 years ago. In 2009, he purchased The Ambassador Group from his father, who still comes in to work daily.

DeLorenzo worked and had ownership in restaurants and understood the risks and requirements regarding insuring them, especially with regard to liquor laws. He took that insight and combined it with his love for the entertainment industry to launch this facet of the company that has grown to generate 70 percent of the firm’s total business, DeLorenzo said.

Since the inception of Bar and Restaurant, the company overall has experienced a 500 percent growth with more than 300 hospitality clients, DeLorenzo said. Most are local but a few are from out of state.

DeLorenzo’s business is utilized by a restaurant industry that shows no signs of slowing. With more than 1 million restaurant locations in the U.S., the industry employs 14.7 million and is expected to create 1.6 million new jobs by 2027, according to the National Restaurant Association.

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: When he started in the bar and restaurant insurance service, he found a very competitive arena. “It was a good old boys (industry). But since then, you’ve seen a funneling out of that regime,” he says. © Patrick Breen/The Republic When he started in the bar and restaurant insurance service, he found a very competitive arena. “It was a good old boys (industry). But since then, you’ve seen a funneling out of that regime,” he says.

DeLorenzo didn’t invent the bar and restaurant insurance service. But he did bring a twist and new energy to that field in Arizona. At the time, he was 35 and considered a kid in a very competitive arena dominated by men in their mid-50s and older who owned their own insurance companies.

“You didn’t see a lot of younger and newer kids saying, ‘I’m going to be an insurance broker. This is awesome,’” DeLorenzo said, as he laughed. “It was a good old boys (industry). But since then, you’ve seen a funneling out of that regime.”

DeLorenzo acknowledged he was in a fortunate situation with having his father’s successful insurance firm as his springboard. But when he set out to create a division focused on a single industry, he knew it required the full dedication and hard work as starting a business from scratch would. 

He became friends with restaurateurs to gain more insight into their needs. He regularly speaks with representatives and lobbyists to advocate for the hospitality industry with regard to the state’s liquor liability laws, which DeLorenzo described as “stringent and anti-establishment.” He utilizes social media and created a podcast to help promote the industry overall beyond his clients.

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DeLorenzo flies in professionals to educate his staff on topics like cyberliability and business income. He doesn’t have to know the liquor laws but he took it upon himself to know them forward and backward and how they are applied in an effort to benefit his clients.

“I have such a passion for what I do, and it’s my business to know their business,” he said.       

Mike Troyan, co-owner of Riot Hospitality Group, has worked with DeLorenzo since 2011. DeLorenzo’s comprehension of the laws and a good understanding of what specific claims are and how to approach them are among the reasons Troyan and his business partners satisfied clients.

a person standing posing for the camera: Memorabilia fills David DeLorenzo's office at Bar and Restaurant Insurance, The Ambassador Group in Phoenix. © Patrick Breen/The Republic Memorabilia fills David DeLorenzo's office at Bar and Restaurant Insurance, The Ambassador Group in Phoenix.

The Scottsdale-based Riot is responsible for restaurants Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, El Hefe, Farm & Craft, Hand Cut Burgers & Chophouse and Riot House with locations in Tempe, Gilbert, Scottsdale and Phoenix. Troyan said many firms over the years have tried to get Riot’s business but in the end, DeLorenzo has always been their hands-down choice.  

“A lot of companies think they can get you a deal but leave you exposed because they don’t understand (the industry and laws) like Dave does,” Troyan said “It comes back to who can protect your business and who is really there for you and he is, for sure.”

Vetting new insurances on the market to make sure they aren’t a fly-by-night operation looking to make money, get out and leave policy holders in a lurch is also part of DeLorenzo’s job. He talked about refusing to sell a trending program that masqueraded as insurance but wasn’t. Seven years later, the program folded amid shady practices by the owner. Being able to protect his clients gives DeLorenzo many feel-good moments.

“I get to work with and be around people that I really admire as business owners, clients and friends,” he said. “I love going to people’s restaurants and their openings, sharing their victories and seeing them succeed.”

Bar and Restaurant Insurance, The Ambassador Group

WHERE: 7010 E. Chauncey Lane #230, Phoenix.

EMPLOYEES: 12.

INTERESTING STAT: The restaurant workforce accounts for 10 percent of the overall U.S. workforce, according to the National Restaurant Association.

DETAILS: 480-776-6981, barandrestaurantinsurance.com.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Former music exec crafts a niche in Arizona bar and restaurant insurance

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