Robert Dorfman believes liquor distribution is best when controlled by the County.
On Tuesday, the County Council approved Dorfman to head the Department of Liquor Control after County Executive Ike Leggett appointed him last month.
Dorfman, who has a long track record as a business executive in the private sector, said he does not plan to change the controversial structure of the DLC, the County agency that solely distributes liquor to bars and restaurants and controls all brick-and-mortar liquor stores in the County.
“I’m going to make sure it’s operated like a good, sound business that takes good care of the customers and generates a return on its investment – period,” Dorfman said.
Dorfman is replacing acting director Fariba Kassiri and former director George Griffin, who left the DLC last years after 21 years working there.
Members of the County Council praised Dorfman’s private sector experience and promise to keep liquor distribution County run. Dorfman previously worked as an executive at Marriott International and was president and CEO of TrustHouse Services Group, a contract services company and Host International, an international restaurant company.
The County averages about $30 million to $35 million in profits annually from liquor sales, licenses fees and distribution from the DLC. Dorfman said he thinks he can make help streamline the distribution process at the DLC, of which some have been critical, especially after an alcohol shortage at some restaurant in the County around New Year’s Eve.
“Coming in from the outside, I think I can offer a totally different perspective on what I think needs to be done and continuously done to improve the whole customer service experience on the part of licensees as well as retail customers,” Dorfman said.
On Tuesday, Council member Tom Hucker (D-5) proposed a series of suggestions to help improve the DLC in a letter to Dorfman.
Hucker suggested that Dorfman should consider a price-matching program, similar to store likes Best Buy, where brick-an- mortar DLC stores will match prices to other liquor stores. Hucker also proposed that Dorfman look into having the DLC open a “superstore” that would offer customer more selection and opening a down-county storage facility to more efficiently supply bars in restaurants in Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Silver Spring.
“It is our responsibility to make the DLC the best it can be – efficient, competitive, consumer-friendly, and teeming with a diverse and easily accessible inventory for both individual customers and licensees. Montgomery County consumers and businesses deserve no less,” Hucker said in a letter to Dorfman.