about worry not
Our mission is to facilitate elevated alcohol-free experiences through education & events.
Starting as a "not-so-boozy" brunch pop-up in 2023, Worry Not! continues to evolve to meet a need within the NA community of offering rich, full alcohol-free beverages (no juice bombs, please!) & fulfilling communal dining experiences, from a service-industry perspective.
We're excited to partner with Wilderton & All the Bitters who have been proudly featured in our August 13th, 2023 & September 24th, 2023 "not-so-boozy" brunch pop-ups, both graciously hosted by Coopers Hall NE.
Keep your eye out for our next alcohol-free dining adventure, and don't hesitate to reach out for bar program consulting, private classes & catering.
Meet Worry Not!’s creator, Cliffton. Cliff’s intentional mission in the development and implementation of Worry Not! is to craft menus that are far more inclusive, giving the option for everyone to enjoy the communal drinking & dining experience.
As a second-generation bartender, Cliff’s always had the hospitality business coursing through his veins. Daycare growing up was at the restaurant his mother, Tracy, worked at, “I learned the importance of the communal dining experience, and how a ‘third place’ can enrich a community.”
Before moving to Portland in 2017 Cliff managed the Los Angeles mainstay, Wurstkuche. From there, he served as the General Manager at the iconic Baco Mercat under the guidance of James Beard nominated & Michelin Star awarded chef, Josef Cenento. He began his Portland industry journey as the General Manager of the legendary Pok Pok, and has proudly run the bar programs at both Jacqueline & Coopers Hall. He currently spends his working hours “putting things into cups” at Canard & Bar Casa Vale.
When speaking to his passion & years of working within the hospitality industry, and the Worry Not! business venture, his ‘why’ is, “I do this because it’s fun, and when it stops being fun, I’ll stop doing it.”
Cliff’s alcohol-free journey began April 1st, 2023, initially as a “Sober April” to re-evaluate his relationship with alcohol. It quickly became clear that alcohol was no longer part of his life plan – the benefits of living alcohol free far outweighed the indulgence of imbibing. With products such as Wilderon, All the Bitters, and Joyus emerging in the market, Cliff envisions a future where ordering a NA modern classic will be commonplace.
“I’ve been passionate about NA drinks long before this decision, but really invested myself when I realized the potential of this fast-growing segment of the beverage industry.”
Meet Meredith – our Marketing & Operations Coordinator. Meredith's role in Worry Not! began when Cliffton was brainstorming the 'not-so-boozy' brunch pop-up concept and they were trying to figure out the perfect name for the project.
"We were super excited about the concept and it's all we could talk about for days - maybe weeks. Through a text exchange I told him half-jokingly, 'Hey! Worry not! I have an idea: Live, Laugh, Low Proof', not knowing that Cliff saw something much bigger in the first part of my message than I did. But it made so much sense.
Meredith, an eastern-Oregon native, has worked as an entrepreneur and started her career in the Bay Area start-up world a lifetime ago, wearing hats in operations, events, community management & writing. While helping build Worry Not! behind the scenes hasn't been unfamiliar territory in a lot of ways, learning about NA bevvys & the hospitality industry is a beautiful new adventure.
"The NA community is growing so quickly and the people within it are doing amazing things. I'm grateful for how much knowledge & support has been so freely given to this project so far. I'm as thankful for everyone I've been working with – Cliff, the Chefs, and everyone on the Worry Not! team are highly knowledgeable, fiercely passionate, experienced professionals. The debut August event was incredible. They made it look easy, and it's not. That's the energy I strive to surround myself with."
Meredith decided to give up alcohol on her birthday this year, and will tell you that it's been a pretty rad gift to herself. She found that going to grab food & drink in sobriety has been hit or miss when looking for a satisfying NA drink. Playing a part in helping expand & elevate the NA cocktail & dining scene has turned working on Worry Not! into a true passion project.
Chef Jahmichael Knutson was our first Worry Not! chef, for our August 13th, 2023 event. Jahmichael worked hard on what he’s coined as “a cute take on Mexican brunch” to pair with our unique & flavorful no-proof cocktail menu.
Jahmichael is also passionate about our mission of cultivating an alcohol-free community drinking & dining experience. When asked what brought him to work with Worry Not!: “I support the motivation behind zero-proof cocktails. It’s good for people. It (not drinking) can be hard, and I support the community of non-drinkers.”
His culinary journey began early hovering over pots and cutting boards with his Nona and mother in the family kitchen, "I got my chops stirring the rice at my great-grandma's house and grating cheese for my mom in our kitchen growing up. Shoutout to my Nona!"
From there he launched into his restaurant career, starting as a dishwasher as many great chefs have done. After making his way out of the dishpit, he leaned into cooking, working with live fire slinging birds with his friends at Chicken and Guns.
Jahmichael then joined the opening crew of Jacqueline in SE - famous for their oyster bar - in 2016. Under head chef Derek Hanson and then chef de cuisine Joel Lui-Kwan, he made his way from prep cook, to line cook, to sous-chef. "I learned everything I know about professional cooking under Derek and Joel."
When speaking to his thoughtfully created menu for the August 13 debut, he said, "The food for this iteration of Worry Not! represents the marriage of my Mexican cooking roots and my professional cooking career here in Portland." The menu proudly features a Mexican breakfast staple, "Huevos Divorciados" - a take on huevos rancheros featuring both red and green salsa divided - or 'divorced' - by refried pinto beans.
Proudly introducing Chef Charlie McMullin who served up a meticulously crafted, classic brunch menu at Worry Not! vol. 2 on September 24th!
Chef Charlie is stoked about the Worry Not! mission of creating an inclusive drinking & dining experience – especially brunch. Sober for seven years, his excitement for elevated zero-proof cocktails hits close to home. Cliffton, Worry Not!’s creator, reached out to Chef Charlie while they were working together at Bar Casa Vale – when the pop-up was a mere concept, and he leapt at the opportunity:
“I remember Cliff telling me the idea, and it clicked. I love the idea of Worry Not! The excitement around zero-proof drinks coupled with my favorite meal.”
Chef Charlie has been cooking around Portland since 2010, but his love for brunch started young with his mom and some scrambled eggs:
“I just wanted to cook her scrambled eggs for breakfast on Mother’s Day, and the lid of the salt shaker came off!”
Chef Charlie gleefully shared that he has since learned how to properly season eggs – after culinary school he started his career at Benjamin Bettinger at Beaker & Flask, and then Imperial. His first Chef position at Broder Nord was a great testing ground for applying the idea of meticulously crafted food to something as “simple” as a buttermilk pancake, a biscuit or french toast. He’ll be taking the techniques he’s learned from fine-dining to apply them to these classic dishes he’ll be serving up at Worry Not! It was a treat to hear more about his motivation for being a part of vol 2 of our brunch pop-up event series:
“I think that breakfast is something that can really kickstart your day. I’ve walked into a restaurant groggy, half-awake, and begging for coffee only to leave smiling and ready to talk about the fantastic omelet I just had. I want to do that for other people”.