Sharing experiences over food and drink is at the heart of human experiences.

In 2021, Founder Mike Pruitt recognized that Charlotte’s growing culinary scene would be the perfect backdrop to bring people together. Therefore, he created the concept of Food & Beverage Social Club – a community that makes memories and connections while supporting local businesses and causes.

In an effort to support young professionals from his Alma Mater, Coastal Carolina University, Mike hired two CCU grads, Lucia and Sam, who served as prestigious Wall Fellows on campus. Prior to launching the club, Mike discovered Chelsey, who brings seasoned event planning experience in Charlotte, to the team. This unique blend of talent came together to formally launch F&B Social Club in January 2022.

“Life is all about creating memories, many of my favorites have been around the dinner table.”
Mike Pruitt

Mike Pruitt
Founder

Michael Pruitt founded Food & Beverage Social Club in 2020 to create a community that gathers together for culinary experiences while supporting local restaurants. In addition to F&B Social, Mr. Pruitt formed Amergent Hospitality Group Inc in 2005 (formerly Chanticleer Holdings Inc.) and currently serves as the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Amergent owns, operates and franchises fast casual and full-service restaurant brands. In 1999 Mr. Pruitt founded Avenel Financial Group, a boutique investment banking firm concentrating on value-oriented investments. In 2011, Mr. Pruitt became a director of the board of Hooters of America, LLC and was an early investor/board member in Appalachian Mountain Brewery which was sold to Craft Brew Alliance in 2018. Mr. Pruitt received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, where he played on the 1982 and 83 College World Series Baseball Teams. Today he sits on the Board of Visitors of the E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration, the Coastal Education Foundation Board (Endowment Investment Committee), and the Athletic Committee of the Board of Trustees. In his free time, Mr. Pruitt enjoys golfing, running, and spending time with his wife and three kids.

Favorite Dish: Farm to Table Meals
Favorite Drink: Oregon Pino Noir and Fresh Vine Wines

Lucia Zats
Director of Event Operations

Lucia Zats is thrilled to serve as the Director of Event Operations for the Food & Beverage Social Club. She is responsible for planning many of our events and she also ensures that our members and guests have an optimal experience with our club. F&B Social Club has been a great way for Lucia to get acclimated with the Queen City, as she recently moved to Charlotte.

Lucia graduated from Coastal Carolina University in 2020, earning a Bachelors in Communication with a minor in Hospitality Resort Tourism. While at CCU, Lucia worked as the Chief of Staff for the Wall Fellows Program, a leadership and professional development program in the Wall College of Business. In her free time, Lucia enjoys discovering new restaurants, traveling and visiting her family at the beach.

Favorite Dish: Sushi or Tacos (It’s so hard to choose a favorite!)
Favorite Drink: Pinot Noir

Sam DiFiore
Food Tasting Analyst

Sam graduated, Magna Cum Laude, as a Finance Major and Investment Real Estate Minor from Coastal Carolina University in 2021. He was honored to be selected as the commencement speaker for his class. While at CCU, he was selected as 1 of 8 members chosen to be in the Wall Fellows Class of 2021, an exclusive and rigorous business program. He also served as the president of the Finance Club.

Although the majority of his professional time is spent working on Mike’s other ventures (Avenel Financial and Co/Investor Club), Sam’s role within F&B is to manage all of the financial aspects of the club. Sam has a background in martial arts and currently trains at the Charlotte jiu-jitsu Academy in his spare time.

Favorite Dish: A steak cooked perfectly – medium rare!
Favorite Drink: Old Fashioned

Chelsey Sanderson
Director of Business Development

Chelsey is a Charlotte native with a rich history in the hospitality industry. After earning a business degree from Queens University of Charlotte, she was the Special Events Manager at the Mint Museum – prior to launching a successful wedding planning and design firm at the age of 25. Mike Pruitt discovered her vast skill set and knew that her experience would be a great asset to help launch his vision.

Between her years of high-level event planning and her impressive local network within the culinary industry, Chelsey has been a perfect fit for our team. She oversees the marketing, public relations, and development-related projects for the club. In her free time, she loves to support local art initiatives and mentor up-and-coming event planners.

Favorite Dish: Currently, anything with burrata!
Favorite Drink: Bee’s Knees or Cucumber Gimlet

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