Fashion

Netflix's Worst Nightmare Has Come True

Netflix’s Worst Nightmare Has Come True

If there were a stock market “hall of fame,” Netflix (NFLX) would be a shoo-in. Its stock has soared 8,500%+ in the last decade as “streaming” video has caught fire.
Netflix achieved those gains by stealing tens of millions of customers from cable companies. Last year, half of Americans age 22–45 didn’t watch a second of cable TV. And 35 million Americans have dropped cable in the last decade.
But it’s time to come to terms with a sad truth…
Netflix’s glory days are over . And what’s coming next won’t be pleasant if you own Netflix stock.
Until recently, Netflix was the only real streaming game in town. Not only did it enjoy virtually zero competition. Many of the biggest, most powerful media companies on earth helped Netflix build its business.
Netflix founder Reed Hastings did a lot of things right. But his most genius move was leasing shows and movies that other companies produced.
In the early 2010s, Netflix signed deals with movie and TV makers like Disney and NBC. For a small fee, Netflix bought the rights to air wildly popular content like the Marvel Avengers movies… and hit comedies like The Office and Friends.
In other words, Netflix built its business on the back of other companies’ content. And it worked incredibly well. Netflix now has 149 million subscribers—more than any cable company.
But this world is now gone.
One by one, Netflix’s colossal competitors have woken up. They’re ending their contracts with Netflix, taking back control of their content, and launching their own streaming services that will compete with Netflix.
This is happening right now. Have you heard about Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+ ? Launching later this year, it’ll be the new home of the world’s most popular movies.
Although Disney is best known for Mickey Mouse, it owns the greatest portfolio of movies ever assembled.
The 3 best-selling movies so far this year are Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, and Aladdin.
Disney owns all 3.
The 3 best-selling movies of 2018 were Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Incredibles 2.
Disney owns all 3.
The 3 best-selling movies of 2017 were Star Wars: The Last Jedi , Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Beauty and the Beast.
Disney owns all 3.
Except for the newest ones, all these wildly popular movies are currently on Netflix. By the end of this year, they’ll be removed from Netflix for good. To watch them, you’ll have to get a Disney+ subscription.
Disney+ will cost $6.99/month—or around half the price of Netflix’s most popular subscription.
Netflix’s Best Content Is Being Gutted
Netflix investors should be equally worried about AT&T’s new streaming service that launches in 2020. It’ll cost slightly more than Netflix at $16–17 month.
AT&T is best known as a cell phone company. But its purchase of WarnerMedia in 2018 turned it into a media powerhouse. It owns HBO, the most successful premium TV network ever. HBO continues to pump out all-time hits like The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and Sex in the City.
Remember, Netflix achieved its incredible success by being first in streaming. It’s a true disruptor stock that revolutionized TV. For years it essentially “owned” the mechanism of airing TV and movies over the internet.
Now that others have caught up, the game has changed. Soon customers will have lots of streaming services to choose from. They’ll choose the ones with the best content.
And Netflix is losing its best content!
It’s not just Disney movies that Netflix is losing. Over the next two years its whole library will be gutted.
According to The Wall Street Journal , the most watched show on Netflix is The Office .
Netflix does not own The Office . NBC Universal owns The Office .
NBC Universal is launching its own streaming service and pulling The Office off Netflix for good by the end of next year.
Another extremely popular show on Netflix is Friends.
Friends is owned by WarnerMedia, which, as I mentioned, is now owned by AT&T.
Friends will be pulled off Netflix for good in 2020.
Losing The Office and Friends is bad, but it’s just scratching the surface. According to analytics firm Jumpshot, more than half of Netflix’s 50 most popular shows are owned by companies planning to launch their own streaming services.
Do you see what’s happening here?
Netflix is losing all the best movies and TV shows.
How could this not cripple it?
Netflix sees the writing on the wall, and is spending gobs of money to reinforce its own content library. It spent $12 billion last year, and it expects to spend another $15 billion this year.
It now invests more in content than any other American TV network. But it’s come at a steep cost. To fund its new shows, Netflix is borrowing huge sums of money. Over the past year its debt has shot up 58% to $10.3 billion. For perspective, Netflix earned $1.2 billion in profits last year.
Unfortunately, no matter how much it spends, it can’t hope to compete with Disney or AT&T. Netflix is in an impossibly tough spot.
Can Netflix survive?
Netflix’s market cap is about $165 billion—making it the 30 th -biggest publicly traded US company.
It got there through domination of streaming which, as I’ve shown, is a thing of the past.
Going forward it will succeed or fail on the popularity of the TV shows and movies it produces.
Let’s assume it succeeds and creates a ton of content people love. The problem is, companies that produce TV shows and movies are not worth anywhere near $165 billion.
Even wildly successful film studios are worth tens of billions, max. In 2018 Walt Disney studios—which includes iconic brands like Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar—generated $10 billion in revenue, and $2.98 billion in profit.
Netflix has one big advantage. It has already amassed a giant audience of 149 million paying subscribers. It’s far easier to keep a customer than to get one.
Netflix will survive. But it will shrink. Even in the most generous scenario, within a couple of years I can’t see it being worth more than $100 billion.
That would put its stock price at about $225/share—or about 40% below its current price.
Again, that’s a rosy scenario. Don’t be surprised if Netflix stock gets cut in half, or worse, in the next year or two.
Download my free report The Great Disruptors: 3 Breakthrough Stocks Set to Double Your Money . These stocks will hand you 100% gains as they disrupt whole industries.

Suburban Dad’s Immigration Tale Perfectly Pairs With Mezcal Patch

restaurants & bars Shared from Plainfield, IL Suburban Dad’s Immigration Tale Perfectly Pairs With Mezcal Juan Peña escaped a dangerous Mexico City neighborhood to become Plainfield’s friendly neighborhood mezcal importer, among other things. By Paul Biasco, Patch Contributing Writer Jul 7, 2019 3:00 pm ET | Updated Jul 7, 2019 4:04 pm ET {{ replyButtonLabel }} Reply {{ replyCount }} Mezcal importer Juan Peña. (Paul Biasco) PLAINFIELD, IL — Juan Peña fled his violent Mexico City neighborhood, survived a two-story fall on the Arizona side of the border wall, dodged “la migra” at O’Hare International Airport and told a white lie that led to a college education.
A handshake at a country club scored Peña a gig as a Mad Men-esque advertising executive. Along the way, he fell in love with a green-eyed beauty and married her. They had a couple of kids and settled in Plainfield.
Now, the 44-year-old naturalized American citizen has a special treat for drinkers in his adopted homeland. Prolijo Mezcal , is what cocktail aficionados call “good juice.”
Mezcal has become extremely popular with a class of American drinkers who prefer more from boozy cocktails than a good buzz. These drinkers have refined palettes and like to discuss details of each handcrafted batch down to the name of each “mezcalero” involved in making it listed on labels.
Hearing Peña tell of his journey to becoming a craft-spirit importer somehow makes the stringent, piney bite of Prolijo Mezcal, Batch No. 2, even more delightful. Peña’s complicated tale starts with blood in the streets, a gun to his head and family drama that prompted his daring border crossing during the Clinton administration.
Now, Peña says, “I am the richest man in the world. … with the fortune to be born in Mexico and also the fortune to move to the United States.”
So, with love for two countries in his heart, in 2017 Peña traveled to San Pedro Totolapa in Mexico’s Oaxacan valley, a near-mythical place where the purest spirit in the world is still made by hand, to bring back bottles of small-batch booze to share with sophisticated drinkers who love the stuff.
Peña’s journey, well, it wasn’t always as smooth as the fermented agave he’s importing to Plainfield.
‘I’m Going To Get Shot One Day’
Peña grew up in Tepito, Mexico, home to one of the world’s most notorious black markets where shootings, stabbings, drug deals, robberies and death happen in public.
A police officer stands next to the bodies of two young men who were shot dead in the Tepito neighborhood in Mexico City in 2010. (AP file photo) Tepito was, and still is, the kind of place where people keep their eyes fixed on the ground while walking in public. Sometimes that still won’t spare you from seeing the unthinkable.
Peña learned that when he was a kid. On his walk to grade school, Peña once spotted a red puddle on the sidewalk and looked up to see a bloody corpse hanging from a tree with a public warning tied to its neck: “That’s what happens when you don’t pay.”
He was just 14 when one of his neighbors put a pistol to his head and forced him to get on his knees. Peña still doesn’t know why. He didn’t rob him. He didn’t shoot.
“When I was a child I really thought that I was going to die,” Peña said.
Juan Peña grew up in Mexico City’s Tepito neighborhood, home to one of the world’s most notorious black markets. (Photo provided by Juan Peña) Peña worked in his stepfather’s shoe supply shop until he was 17, around the time the man married to his mother stopped supporting his family.
“I went through physical abuse through my dad, through my stepdad, through the neighborhood. I didn’t have a north star,” Peña said “… I always had in my mind, one day I’m going to live in the United States. … That was a dream. My reality was I’m going to get shot one day.”
Without his stepfather’s financial support, Peña knew his mother and seven siblings would suffer in poverty without his help. He made plans to head north — to Chicago as things turned out — lured by the promise of work that paid $4.25 an hour, more than enough to send home cash to help the family.
Peña headed to Nogales, Sonora, just 15 miles from the Arizona border, with bags full of all of his belongings and waited for an honest human smuggler to help him avoid tomadores — Mexican hoodlums that might rob him — and get across the border safely.
‘Gotta Keep Going’
In Tepito, the neighborhood Peña would leave behind, mezcal, an inexpensive bootleg spirit — long considered Tequila’s bastard cousin — was served in recycled Coke bottles and offered poor locals a cheap buzz that doubled as an escape.
Mezcaleros make the spirit from some 30 varieties of agave, which they often find growing in the wild. These masters roast their agave hearts in underground pits, crush them by hand or by donkey-pulled stone wheels, ferment the mash in open-air vats and finally distill it into a boozy liquid that reach 110 proof — that’s 55-percent alcohol.
It’s powerful stuff. Americans, particularly early ’90s Spring Break partiers, once associated mezcal with “eating the worm.” Since then, mezcal’s reputation has improved, especially after artist Ron Cooper became the first importer to market small batches of the Mexican spirit as a high-end tequila alternative.
Those first batches were imported into the United States around the same time that Peña jumped the border.
In April 1995, Peña paid a human trafficker 500 bucks to help him cross the border. The coyote told him to unpack his bags and put on as many clothes as he could — three pairs of underwear, two t-shirts, sweatpants, jeans, a sweater, sweatshirt and jacket — before heading out into the desert in early spring when temperatures can drop to 30 degrees at night.
Almost immediately, things went horribly wrong. Peña climbed eight feet up the Mexican side of the metal border fence without knowing that he’d have to survive a 20-foot drop to land on American soil. He botched the dismount and twisted his ankle on a rock, which left him hobbled while the coyote-led pack ran by him. Then he saw the lights. La migra. Border patrol.
Peña hit the deck — and landed on a cactus.
“It was a mess,” he said. “You just gotta keep going.”
That’s what he did. The coyote led Peña to a safehouse in Tucson — a small ranch-style home packed with 40 other migrants and a gravity chute that funneled poop outside for a bathroom.
“Man, it was nasty,” Peña said. He spent four days in that house waiting for a friend to wire him enough money for the three-and-a-half hour flight out to O’Hare. The coyote drove him to the airport and even walked him up to the gate. Peña landed in Chicago without identification papers, with only a lick of English and the phone number of a pal who promised him a job at Pepe’s at Grand and Cicero in Chicago.
Peña took free English classes and followed the advice of classmate who told him that he’d find better pay — and big tippers — if he could score a job at a suburban country club. Eventually, Peña got hired as a busboy at Naperville Country Club for nearly double what he got paid at Pepe’s. That gave him enough extra money to sign up for classes at the College of DuPage.
Peña didn’t have the high school diploma required to take graphic design classes. Out of desperation, Peña says, he told a college dean an elaborate white lie.
“I said, ‘Listen, I’m from Mexico, I want to take college classes here, but my school in Mexico burned down so they have no records about my degree in high school,'” Peña said..
The dean cut Peña a deal — if he passed the graphic design class, he could continue his college education. So, that’s what Peña did.
Life was good, and got better in 1997 when he met Michelle, the beautiful green-eyed teacher he first spotted dancing with another man at a suburban night club. Peña cut in that night, and married Michelle three years later.
Juan and Michelle Peña (Provided by Juan Peña) Michelle convinced Peña to take a job at La Grange Country Club, a few suburbs away. There Peña worked as a bartender in the member’s lounge. Rich guys loved him. They called him “Juany,” and sometimes tipped him in $100 bills. A club member who ran a small health care marketing agency asked, “What can you do for me?”
“I said, ‘Anything. Anything.’ And ‘I went from being a waiter at a country club … to an agency,” Peña said.
Great-Grandma Inspired Hunt For “Good Juice”
Over the next 16 years, Peña climbed the corporate later working as a graphic designer and eventually art director at renowned advertising firms — Draftfcb, Razorfish and Laughlin-Constable, among them. Along the way, Peña earned awards, promotions, media mentions for his work promoting Fortune 500 brands including KFC, McDonald’s, Intel, Special K and, most prophetically, Tequila el Jimador, where he got his first taste of booze branding.
That work brought back memories of watching his great-grandma making pulque, an ancient alcoholic drink made from the maguey plant, in her backyard. The traditional Central Mexico concoction looks like milk, tastes like sour yeast and people have been drinking it for more than 2,000 years, including Peña’s “bisabuela,” who lived to be 115 years old.
“I started to connect more with my roots and reminiscing where my mom is from and what her family did with the pulque,” Peña said. “You go to Oaxaca and everybody makes mezcal. That’s how I grew up. I grew up very humble. My family didn’t have money … when I was in Mexico, mezcal was for the poor people. It was the cheapest.”
Soon after, mezcal started popping up in posh Chicago bars. The high-end stuff was going for upwards of $35 for a two-ounce pour. Peña’s marketing instincts kicked in.
“Being Mexican [in Chicago] I’m like oh, man … I can make a mark on this thing. I know the culture. I know the flavors and, god damn, I speak the language,” Peña said.
In 2016, Peña quit his job as associate creative director at one of the world’s biggest ad agencies, FCB Chicago, and headed south of the border to Oaxaca, where more than 87% of mezcal is made.
A river cuts directly through the heart of San Pedro Totolapa, a small mezcal-producing pueblo home to fewer than 2,000 people where Peña found his good juice. He won the trust of four different distillers there by offering them a fair deal, speaking in the region’s indigenous language, and treating them with respect, a quality that locals will tell you many other American mezcal importers lack.
Prolijo Mezcal importer Juan Peña takes a selfie with an unidentified mezcalero. (Provided by Juan Peña) “I feel a responsibility in the [mezcal] scene,” Peña said. “It’s not really so much about selling the spirit as it is in selling the culture.”
Peña has big plans to grow the Prolijo Mezcal brand amid an agave-liquor gold rush fueled by a furry of tequila drinkers converting to mezcal. Mezcal production doubled from 2014 to 2016. Industry experts expect mezcal production to triple by 2023 due to growing demand in the U.S. and more recently, around the world, according to a report in El Financiero .
Peña launched the Prolijo Mezcal brand without a distributor a little more than a year ago at the 2018 National Restaurant Show in Chicago. With the help of his buddy Miguel Gonzalez, Peña pitched his $49-a-bottle mezcal to bartenders, restaurant managers, liquor store owners, anyone who would take an appointment. Prolijo Mezcal turned its first profit in December.
Now, you can find Prolijo Mezcal at bars in Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, and even in Plainfield, behind the bar at Sovereign and Station One Smokehouse.
Prolijo Mezcal (Paul Biasco) If you come across a bottle along your drinking journey, ask the bartender to pour it neat so you can savor the hint of cooked agave, lingering alcohol burn and oily aftertaste, that only comes from the backbreaking work of mezcaleros who make it one batch at a time.
And if you want to impress a mezcal head, tell ’em about Peña, the unlikely importer of Plainfield’s finest fermented agave hearts, whose story pairs perfectly with the stringent hit of pine in Prolijo, Batch No. 2.
Paul Biasco is a journalist and restaurateur from Chicago who lives most of the year in Mexico City. His work has appeared in Architectural Digest, Kitchen Toke, Eater and Motherboard.
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Suburban Dad’s Immigration Tale Perfectly Pairs With Mezcal Patch

restaurants & bars Shared from Plainfield, IL Suburban Dad’s Immigration Tale Perfectly Pairs With Mezcal Juan Peña escaped a dangerous Mexico City neighborhood to become Plainfield’s friendly neighborhood mezcal importer, among other things. By Paul Biasco, Patch Contributing Writer Jul 7, 2019 3:00 pm ET | Updated Jul 7, 2019 4:04 Mezcal importer Juan Peña. (Paul Biasco) PLAINFIELD, IL — Juan Peña fled his violent Mexico City neighborhood, survived a two-story fall on the Arizona side of the border wall, dodged “la migra” at O’Hare International Airport and told a white lie that led to a college education.
A handshake at a country club scored Peña a gig as a Mad Men-esque advertising executive. Along the way, he fell in love with a green-eyed beauty and married her. They had a couple of kids and settled in Plainfield.
Now, the 44-year-old naturalized American citizen has a special treat for drinkers in his adopted homeland. Prolijo Mezcal , is what cocktail aficionados call “good juice.”
Mezcal has become extremely popular with a class of American drinkers who prefer more from boozy cocktails than a good buzz. These drinkers have refined palettes and like to discuss details of each handcrafted batch down to the name of each “mezcalero” involved in making it listed on labels.
Hearing Peña tell of his journey to becoming a craft-spirit importer somehow makes the stringent, piney bite of Prolijo Mezcal, Batch No. 2, even more delightful. Peña’s complicated tale starts with blood in the streets, a gun to his head and family drama that prompted his daring border crossing during the Clinton administration.
Now, Peña says, “I am the richest man in the world. … with the fortune to be born in Mexico and also the fortune to move to the United States.”
So, with love for two countries in his heart, in 2017 Peña traveled to San Pedro Totolapa in Mexico’s Oaxacan valley, a near-mythical place where the purest spirit in the world is still made by hand, to bring back bottles of small-batch booze to share with sophisticated drinkers who love the stuff.
Peña’s journey, well, it wasn’t always as smooth as the fermented agave he’s importing to Plainfield.
‘I’m Going To Get Shot One Day’
Peña grew up in Tepito, Mexico, home to one of the world’s most notorious black markets where shootings, stabbings, drug deals, robberies and death happen in public.
A police officer stands next to the bodies of two young men who were shot dead in the Tepito neighborhood in Mexico City in 2010. (AP file photo) Tepito was, and still is, the kind of place where people keep their eyes fixed on the ground while walking in public. Sometimes that still won’t spare you from seeing the unthinkable.
Peña learned that when he was a kid. On his walk to grade school, Peña once spotted a red puddle on the sidewalk and looked up to see a bloody corpse hanging from a tree with a public warning tied to its neck: “That’s what happens when you don’t pay.”
He was just 14 when one of his neighbors put a pistol to his head and forced him to get on his knees. Peña still doesn’t know why. He didn’t rob him. He didn’t shoot.
“When I was a child I really thought that I was going to die,” Peña said.
Juan Peña grew up in Mexico City’s Tepito neighborhood, home to one of the world’s most notorious black markets. (Photo provided by Juan Peña) Peña worked in his stepfather’s shoe supply shop until he was 17, around the time the man married to his mother stopped supporting his family.
“I went through physical abuse through my dad, through my stepdad, through the neighborhood. I didn’t have a north star,” Peña said “… I always had in my mind, one day I’m going to live in the United States. … That was a dream. My reality was I’m going to get shot one day.”
Without his stepfather’s financial support, Peña knew his mother and seven siblings would suffer in poverty without his help. He made plans to head north — to Chicago as things turned out — lured by the promise of work that paid $4.25 an hour, more than enough to send home cash to help the family.
Peña headed to Nogales, Sonora, just 15 miles from the Arizona border, with bags full of all of his belongings and waited for an honest human smuggler to help him avoid tomadores — Mexican hoodlums that might rob him — and get across the border safely.
‘Gotta Keep Going’
In Tepito, the neighborhood Peña would leave behind, mezcal, an inexpensive bootleg spirit — long considered Tequila’s bastard cousin — was served in recycled Coke bottles and offered poor locals a cheap buzz that doubled as an escape.
Mezcaleros make the spirit from some 30 varieties of agave, which they often find growing in the wild. These masters roast their agave hearts in underground pits, crush them by hand or by donkey-pulled stone wheels, ferment the mash in open-air vats and finally distill it into a boozy liquid that reach 110 proof — that’s 55-percent alcohol.
It’s powerful stuff. Americans, particularly early ’90s Spring Break partiers, once associated mezcal with “eating the worm.” Since then, mezcal’s reputation has improved, especially after artist Ron Cooper became the first importer to market small batches of the Mexican spirit as a high-end tequila alternative.
Those first batches were imported into the United States around the same time that Peña jumped the border.
In April 1995, Peña paid a human trafficker 500 bucks to help him cross the border. The coyote told him to unpack his bags and put on as many clothes as he could — three pairs of underwear, two t-shirts, sweatpants, jeans, a sweater, sweatshirt and jacket — before heading out into the desert in early spring when temperatures can drop to 30 degrees at night.
Almost immediately, things went horribly wrong. Peña climbed eight feet up the Mexican side of the metal border fence without knowing that he’d have to survive a 20-foot drop to land on American soil. He botched the dismount and twisted his ankle on a rock, which left him hobbled while the coyote-led pack ran by him. Then he saw the lights. La migra. Border patrol.
Peña hit the deck — and landed on a cactus.
“It was a mess,” he said. “You just gotta keep going.”
That’s what he did. The coyote led Peña to a safehouse in Tucson — a small ranch-style home packed with 40 other migrants and a gravity chute that funneled poop outside for a bathroom.
“Man, it was nasty,” Peña said. He spent four days in that house waiting for a friend to wire him enough money for the three-and-a-half hour flight out to O’Hare. The coyote drove him to the airport and even walked him up to the gate. Peña landed in Chicago without identification papers, with only a lick of English and the phone number of a pal who promised him a job at Pepe’s at Grand and Cicero in Chicago.
Peña took free English classes and followed the advice of classmate who told him that he’d find better pay — and big tippers — if he could score a job at a suburban country club. Eventually, Peña got hired as a busboy at Naperville Country Club for nearly double what he got paid at Pepe’s. That gave him enough extra money to sign up for classes at the College of DuPage.
Peña didn’t have the high school diploma required to take graphic design classes. Out of desperation, Peña says, he told a college dean an elaborate white lie.
“I said, ‘Listen, I’m from Mexico, I want to take college classes here, but my school in Mexico burned down so they have no records about my degree in high school,'” Peña said..
The dean cut Peña a deal — if he passed the graphic design class, he could continue his college education. So, that’s what Peña did.
Life was good, and got better in 1997 when he met Michelle, the beautiful green-eyed teacher he first spotted dancing with another man at a suburban night club. Peña cut in that night, and married Michelle three years later.
Juan and Michelle Peña (Provided by Juan Peña) Michelle convinced Peña to take a job at La Grange Country Club, a few suburbs away. There Peña worked as a bartender in the member’s lounge. Rich guys loved him. They called him “Juany,” and sometimes tipped him in $100 bills. A club member who ran a small health care marketing agency asked, “What can you do for me?”
“I said, ‘Anything. Anything.’ And ‘I went from being a waiter at a country club … to an agency,” Peña said.
Great-Grandma Inspired Hunt For “Good Juice”
Over the next 16 years, Peña climbed the corporate later working as a graphic designer and eventually art director at renowned advertising firms — Draftfcb, Razorfish and Laughlin-Constable, among them. Along the way, Peña earned awards, promotions, media mentions for his work promoting Fortune 500 brands including KFC, McDonald’s, Intel, Special K and, most prophetically, Tequila el Jimador, where he got his first taste of booze branding.
That work brought back memories of watching his great-grandma making pulque, an ancient alcoholic drink made from the maguey plant, in her backyard. The traditional Central Mexico concoction looks like milk, tastes like sour yeast and people have been drinking it for more than 2,000 years, including Peña’s “bisabuela,” who lived to be 115 years old.
“I started to connect more with my roots and reminiscing where my mom is from and what her family did with the pulque,” Peña said. “You go to Oaxaca and everybody makes mezcal. That’s how I grew up. I grew up very humble. My family didn’t have money … when I was in Mexico, mezcal was for the poor people. It was the cheapest.”
Soon after, mezcal started popping up in posh Chicago bars. The high-end stuff was going for upwards of $35 for a two-ounce pour. Peña’s marketing instincts kicked in.
“Being Mexican [in Chicago] I’m like oh, man … I can make a mark on this thing. I know the culture. I know the flavors and, god damn, I speak the language,” Peña said.
In 2016, Peña quit his job as associate creative director at one of the world’s biggest ad agencies, FCB Chicago, and headed south of the border to Oaxaca, where more than 87% of mezcal is made.
A river cuts directly through the heart of San Pedro Totolapa, a small mezcal-producing pueblo home to fewer than 2,000 people where Peña found his good juice. He won the trust of four different distillers there by offering them a fair deal, speaking in the region’s indigenous language, and treating them with respect, a quality that locals will tell you many other American mezcal importers lack.
Prolijo Mezcal importer Juan Peña takes a selfie with an unidentified mezcalero. (Provided by Juan Peña) “I feel a responsibility in the [mezcal] scene,” Peña said. “It’s not really so much about selling the spirit as it is in selling the culture.”
Peña has big plans to grow the Prolijo Mezcal brand amid an agave-liquor gold rush fueled by a furry of tequila drinkers converting to mezcal. Mezcal production doubled from 2014 to 2016. Industry experts expect mezcal production to triple by 2023 due to growing demand in the U.S. and more recently, around the world, according to a report in El Financiero .
Peña launched the Prolijo Mezcal brand without a distributor a little more than a year ago at the 2018 National Restaurant Show in Chicago. With the help of his buddy Miguel Gonzalez, Peña pitched his $49-a-bottle mezcal to bartenders, restaurant managers, liquor store owners, anyone who would take an appointment. Prolijo Mezcal turned its first profit in December.
Now, you can find Prolijo Mezcal at bars in Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, and even in Plainfield, behind the bar at Sovereign and Station One Smokehouse.
Prolijo Mezcal (Paul Biasco) If you come across a bottle along your drinking journey, ask the bartender to pour it neat so you can savor the hint of cooked agave, lingering alcohol burn and oily aftertaste, that only comes from the backbreaking work of mezcaleros who make it one batch at a time.
And if you want to impress a mezcal head, tell ’em about Peña, the unlikely importer of Plainfield’s finest fermented agave hearts, whose story pairs perfectly with the stringent hit of pine in Prolijo, Batch No. 2.
Paul Biasco is a journalist and restaurateur from Chicago who lives most of the year in Mexico City. His work has appeared in Architectural Digest, Kitchen Toke, Eater and Motherboard.
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Suburban Dad’s Immigration Tale Perfectly Pairs With Mezcal Patch

restaurants & bars Shared from Plainfield, IL Suburban Dad’s Immigration Tale Perfectly Pairs With Mezcal Juan Peña escaped a dangerous Mexico City neighborhood to become Plainfield’s friendly neighborhood mezcal importer, among other things. By Paul Biasco, Patch Contributing Writer Jul 7, 2019 3:00 pm ET | Updated Jul 7, 2019 4:04 pm ET {{ replyButtonLabel }} Reply {{ replyCount }} Mezcal importer Juan Peña. (Paul Biasco) PLAINFIELD, IL — Juan Peña fled his violent Mexico City neighborhood, survived a two-story fall on the Arizona side of the border wall, dodged “la migra” at O’Hare International Airport and told a white lie that led to a college education.
A handshake at a country club scored Peña a gig as a Mad Men-esque advertising executive. Along the way, he fell in love with a green-eyed beauty and married her. They had a couple of kids and settled in Plainfield.
Now, the 44-year-old naturalized American citizen has a special treat for drinkers in his adopted homeland. Prolijo Mezcal , is what cocktail aficionados call “good juice.”
Mezcal has become extremely popular with a class of American drinkers who prefer more from boozy cocktails than a good buzz. These drinkers have refined palettes and like to discuss details of each handcrafted batch down to the name of each “mezcalero” involved in making it listed on labels.
Hearing Peña tell of his journey to becoming a craft-spirit importer somehow makes the stringent, piney bite of Prolijo Mezcal, Batch No. 2, even more delightful. Peña’s complicated tale starts with blood in the streets, a gun to his head and family drama that prompted his daring border crossing during the Clinton administration.
Now, Peña says, “I am the richest man in the world. … with the fortune to be born in Mexico and also the fortune to move to the United States.”
So, with love for two countries in his heart, in 2017 Peña traveled to San Pedro Totolapa in Mexico’s Oaxacan valley, a near-mythical place where the purest spirit in the world is still made by hand, to bring back bottles of small-batch booze to share with sophisticated drinkers who love the stuff.
Peña’s journey, well, it wasn’t always as smooth as the fermented agave he’s importing to Plainfield.
‘I’m Going To Get Shot One Day’
Peña grew up in Tepito, Mexico, home to one of the world’s most notorious black markets where shootings, stabbings, drug deals, robberies and death happen in public.
A police officer stands next to the bodies of two young men who were shot dead in the Tepito neighborhood in Mexico City in 2010. (AP file photo) Tepito was, and still is, the kind of place where people keep their eyes fixed on the ground while walking in public. Sometimes that still won’t spare you from seeing the unthinkable.
Peña learned that when he was a kid. On his walk to grade school, Peña once spotted a red puddle on the sidewalk and looked up to see a bloody corpse hanging from a tree with a public warning tied to its neck: “That’s what happens when you don’t pay.”
He was just 14 when one of his neighbors put a pistol to his head and forced him to get on his knees. Peña still doesn’t know why. He didn’t rob him. He didn’t shoot.
“When I was a child I really thought that I was going to die,” Peña said.
Juan Peña grew up in Mexico City’s Tepito neighborhood, home to one of the world’s most notorious black markets. (Photo provided by Juan Peña) Peña worked in his stepfather’s shoe supply shop until he was 17, around the time the man married to his mother stopped supporting his family.
“I went through physical abuse through my dad, through my stepdad, through the neighborhood. I didn’t have a north star,” Peña said “… I always had in my mind, one day I’m going to live in the United States. … That was a dream. My reality was I’m going to get shot one day.”
Without his stepfather’s financial support, Peña knew his mother and seven siblings would suffer in poverty without his help. He made plans to head north — to Chicago as things turned out — lured by the promise of work that paid $4.25 an hour, more than enough to send home cash to help the family.
Peña headed to Nogales, Sonora, just 15 miles from the Arizona border, with bags full of all of his belongings and waited for an honest human smuggler to help him avoid tomadores — Mexican hoodlums that might rob him — and get across the border safely.
‘Gotta Keep Going’
In Tepito, the neighborhood Peña would leave behind, mezcal, an inexpensive bootleg spirit — long considered Tequila’s bastard cousin — was served in recycled Coke bottles and offered poor locals a cheap buzz that doubled as an escape.
Mezcaleros make the spirit from some 30 varieties of agave, which they often find growing in the wild. These masters roast their agave hearts in underground pits, crush them by hand or by donkey-pulled stone wheels, ferment the mash in open-air vats and finally distill it into a boozy liquid that reach 110 proof — that’s 55-percent alcohol.
It’s powerful stuff. Americans, particularly early ’90s Spring Break partiers, once associated mezcal with “eating the worm.” Since then, mezcal’s reputation has improved, especially after artist Ron Cooper became the first importer to market small batches of the Mexican spirit as a high-end tequila alternative.
Those first batches were imported into the United States around the same time that Peña jumped the border.
In April 1995, Peña paid a human trafficker 500 bucks to help him cross the border. The coyote told him to unpack his bags and put on as many clothes as he could — three pairs of underwear, two t-shirts, sweatpants, jeans, a sweater, sweatshirt and jacket — before heading out into the desert in early spring when temperatures can drop to 30 degrees at night.
Almost immediately, things went horribly wrong. Peña climbed eight feet up the Mexican side of the metal border fence without knowing that he’d have to survive a 20-foot drop to land on American soil. He botched the dismount and twisted his ankle on a rock, which left him hobbled while the coyote-led pack ran by him. Then he saw the lights. La migra. Border patrol.
Peña hit the deck — and landed on a cactus.
“It was a mess,” he said. “You just gotta keep going.”
That’s what he did. The coyote led Peña to a safehouse in Tucson — a small ranch-style home packed with 40 other migrants and a gravity chute that funneled poop outside for a bathroom.
“Man, it was nasty,” Peña said. He spent four days in that house waiting for a friend to wire him enough money for the three-and-a-half hour flight out to O’Hare. The coyote drove him to the airport and even walked him up to the gate. Peña landed in Chicago without identification papers, with only a lick of English and the phone number of a pal who promised him a job at Pepe’s at Grand and Cicero in Chicago.
Peña took free English classes and followed the advice of classmate who told him that he’d find better pay — and big tippers — if he could score a job at a suburban country club. Eventually, Peña got hired as a busboy at Naperville Country Club for nearly double what he got paid at Pepe’s. That gave him enough extra money to sign up for classes at the College of DuPage.
Peña didn’t have the high school diploma required to take graphic design classes. Out of desperation, Peña says, he told a college dean an elaborate white lie.
“I said, ‘Listen, I’m from Mexico, I want to take college classes here, but my school in Mexico burned down so they have no records about my degree in high school,'” Peña said..
The dean cut Peña a deal — if he passed the graphic design class, he could continue his college education. So, that’s what Peña did.
Life was good, and got better in 1997 when he met Michelle, the beautiful green-eyed teacher he first spotted dancing with another man at a suburban night club. Peña cut in that night, and married Michelle three years later.
Juan and Michelle Peña (Provided by Juan Peña) Michelle convinced Peña to take a job at La Grange Country Club, a few suburbs away. There Peña worked as a bartender in the member’s lounge. Rich guys loved him. They called him “Juany,” and sometimes tipped him in $100 bills. A club member who ran a small health care marketing agency asked, “What can you do for me?”
“I said, ‘Anything. Anything.’ And ‘I went from being a waiter at a country club … to an agency,” Peña said.
Great-Grandma Inspired Hunt For “Good Juice”
Over the next 16 years, Peña climbed the corporate later working as a graphic designer and eventually art director at renowned advertising firms — Draftfcb, Razorfish and Laughlin-Constable, among them. Along the way, Peña earned awards, promotions, media mentions for his work promoting Fortune 500 brands including KFC, McDonald’s, Intel, Special K and, most prophetically, Tequila el Jimador, where he got his first taste of booze branding.
That work brought back memories of watching his great-grandma making pulque, an ancient alcoholic drink made from the maguey plant, in her backyard. The traditional Central Mexico concoction looks like milk, tastes like sour yeast and people have been drinking it for more than 2,000 years, including Peña’s “bisabuela,” who lived to be 115 years old.
“I started to connect more with my roots and reminiscing where my mom is from and what her family did with the pulque,” Peña said. “You go to Oaxaca and everybody makes mezcal. That’s how I grew up. I grew up very humble. My family didn’t have money … when I was in Mexico, mezcal was for the poor people. It was the cheapest.”
Soon after, mezcal started popping up in posh Chicago bars. The high-end stuff was going for upwards of $35 for a two-ounce pour. Peña’s marketing instincts kicked in.
“Being Mexican [in Chicago] I’m like oh, man … I can make a mark on this thing. I know the culture. I know the flavors and, god damn, I speak the language,” Peña said.
In 2016, Peña quit his job as associate creative director at one of the world’s biggest ad agencies, FCB Chicago, and headed south of the border to Oaxaca, where more than 87% of mezcal is made.
A river cuts directly through the heart of San Pedro Totolapa, a small mezcal-producing pueblo home to fewer than 2,000 people where Peña found his good juice. He won the trust of four different distillers there by offering them a fair deal, speaking in the region’s indigenous language, and treating them with respect, a quality that locals will tell you many other American mezcal importers lack.
Prolijo Mezcal importer Juan Peña takes a selfie with an unidentified mezcalero. (Provided by Juan Peña) “I feel a responsibility in the [mezcal] scene,” Peña said. “It’s not really so much about selling the spirit as it is in selling the culture.”
Peña has big plans to grow the Prolijo Mezcal brand amid an agave-liquor gold rush fueled by a furry of tequila drinkers converting to mezcal. Mezcal production doubled from 2014 to 2016. Industry experts expect mezcal production to triple by 2023 due to growing demand in the U.S. and more recently, around the world, according to a report in El Financiero .
Peña launched the Prolijo Mezcal brand without a distributor a little more than a year ago at the 2018 National Restaurant Show in Chicago. With the help of his buddy Miguel Gonzalez, Peña pitched his $49-a-bottle mezcal to bartenders, restaurant managers, liquor store owners, anyone who would take an appointment. Prolijo Mezcal turned its first profit in December.
Now, you can find Prolijo Mezcal at bars in Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, and even in Plainfield, behind the bar at Sovereign and Station One Smokehouse.
Prolijo Mezcal (Paul Biasco) If you come across a bottle along your drinking journey, ask the bartender to pour it neat so you can savor the hint of cooked agave, lingering alcohol burn and oily aftertaste, that only comes from the backbreaking work of mezcaleros who make it one batch at a time.
And if you want to impress a mezcal head, tell ’em about Peña, the unlikely importer of Plainfield’s finest fermented agave hearts, whose story pairs perfectly with the stringent hit of pine in Prolijo, Batch No. 2.
Paul Biasco is a journalist and restaurateur from Chicago who lives most of the year in Mexico City. His work has appeared in Architectural Digest, Kitchen Toke, Eater and Motherboard.
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Suburban Dad’s Immigration Tale Perfectly Pairs With Mezcal |

restaurants & bars Shared from Plainfield, IL Suburban Dad’s Immigration Tale Perfectly Pairs With Mezcal Juan Peña escaped a dangerous Mexico City neighborhood to become Plainfield’s friendly neighborhood mezcal importer, among other things. By Paul Biasco, Patch Contributing Writer Jul 7, 2019 3:00 pm ET | Updated Jul 7, 2019 4:04 pm ET Mezcal importer Juan Peña. (Paul Biasco) PLAINFIELD, IL — Juan Peña fled his violent Mexico City neighborhood, survived a two-story fall on the Arizona side of the border wall, dodged “la migra” at O’Hare International Airport and told a white lie that led to a college education.
A handshake at a country club scored Peña a gig as a Mad Men-esque advertising executive. Along the way, he fell in love with a green-eyed beauty and married her. They had a couple of kids and settled in Plainfield.
Now, the 44-year-old naturalized American citizen has a special treat for drinkers in his adopted homeland. Prolijo Mezcal , is what cocktail aficionados call “good juice.”
Mezcal has become extremely popular with a class of American drinkers who prefer more from boozy cocktails than a good buzz. These drinkers have refined palettes and like to discuss details of each handcrafted batch down to the name of each “mezcalero” involved in making it listed on labels.
Hearing Peña tell of his journey to becoming a craft-spirit importer somehow makes the stringent, piney bite of Prolijo Mezcal, Batch No. 2, even more delightful. Peña’s complicated tale starts with blood in the streets, a gun to his head and family drama that prompted his daring border crossing during the Clinton administration.
Now, Peña says, “I am the richest man in the world. … with the fortune to be born in Mexico and also the fortune to move to the United States.”
So, with love for two countries in his heart, in 2017 Peña traveled to San Pedro Totolapa in Mexico’s Oaxacan valley, a near-mythical place where the purest spirit in the world is still made by hand, to bring back bottles of small-batch booze to share with sophisticated drinkers who love the stuff.
Peña’s journey, well, it wasn’t always as smooth as the fermented agave he’s importing to Plainfield.
‘I’m Going To Get Shot One Day’
Peña grew up in Tepito, Mexico, home to one of the world’s most notorious black markets where shootings, stabbings, drug deals, robberies and death happen in public.
A police officer stands next to the bodies of two young men who were shot dead in the Tepito neighborhood in Mexico City in 2010. (AP file photo) Tepito was, and still is, the kind of place where people keep their eyes fixed on the ground while walking in public. Sometimes that still won’t spare you from seeing the unthinkable.
Peña learned that when he was a kid. On his walk to grade school, Peña once spotted a red puddle on the sidewalk and looked up to see a bloody corpse hanging from a tree with a public warning tied to its neck: “That’s what happens when you don’t pay.”
He was just 14 when one of his neighbors put a pistol to his head and forced him to get on his knees. Peña still doesn’t know why. He didn’t rob him. He didn’t shoot.
“When I was a child I really thought that I was going to die,” Peña said.
Juan Peña grew up in Mexico City’s Tepito neighborhood, home to one of the world’s most notorious black markets. (Photo provided by Juan Peña) Peña worked in his stepfather’s shoe supply shop until he was 17, around the time the man married to his mother stopped supporting his family.
“I went through physical abuse through my dad, through my stepdad, through the neighborhood. I didn’t have a north star,” Peña said “… I always had in my mind, one day I’m going to live in the United States. … That was a dream. My reality was I’m going to get shot one day.”
Without his stepfather’s financial support, Peña knew his mother and seven siblings would suffer in poverty without his help. He made plans to head north — to Chicago as things turned out — lured by the promise of work that paid $4.25 an hour, more than enough to send home cash to help the family.
Peña headed to Nogales, Sonora, just 15 miles from the Arizona border, with bags full of all of his belongings and waited for an honest human smuggler to help him avoid tomadores — Mexican hoodlums that might rob him — and get across the border safely.
‘Gotta Keep Going’
In Tepito, the neighborhood Peña would leave behind, mezcal, an inexpensive bootleg spirit — long considered Tequila’s bastard cousin — was served in recycled Coke bottles and offered poor locals a cheap buzz that doubled as an escape.
Mezcaleros make the spirit from some 30 varieties of agave, which they often find growing in the wild. These masters roast their agave hearts in underground pits, crush them by hand or by donkey-pulled stone wheels, ferment the mash in open-air vats and finally distill it into a boozy liquid that reach 110 proof — that’s 55-percent alcohol.
It’s powerful stuff. Americans, particularly early ’90s Spring Break partiers, once associated mezcal with “eating the worm.” Since then, mezcal’s reputation has improved, especially after artist Ron Cooper became the first importer to market small batches of the Mexican spirit as a high-end tequila alternative.
Those first batches were imported into the United States around the same time that Peña jumped the border.
In April 1995, Peña paid a human trafficker 500 bucks to help him cross the border. The coyote told him to unpack his bags and put on as many clothes as he could — three pairs of underwear, two t-shirts, sweatpants, jeans, a sweater, sweatshirt and jacket — before heading out into the desert in early spring when temperatures can drop to 30 degrees at night.
Almost immediately, things went horribly wrong. Peña climbed eight feet up the Mexican side of the metal border fence without knowing that he’d have to survive a 20-foot drop to land on American soil. He botched the dismount and twisted his ankle on a rock, which left him hobbled while the coyote-led pack ran by him. Then he saw the lights. La migra. Border patrol.
Peña hit the deck — and landed on a cactus.
“It was a mess,” he said. “You just gotta keep going.”
That’s what he did. The coyote led Peña to a safehouse in Tucson — a small ranch-style home packed with 40 other migrants and a gravity chute that funneled poop outside for a bathroom.
“Man, it was nasty,” Peña said. He spent four days in that house waiting for a friend to wire him enough money for the three-and-a-half hour flight out to O’Hare. The coyote drove him to the airport and even walked him up to the gate. Peña landed in Chicago without identification papers, with only a lick of English and the phone number of a pal who promised him a job at Pepe’s at Grand and Cicero in Chicago.
Peña took free English classes and followed the advice of classmate who told him that he’d find better pay — and big tippers — if he could score a job at a suburban country club. Eventually, Peña got hired as a busboy at Naperville Country Club for nearly double what he got paid at Pepe’s. That gave him enough extra money to sign up for classes at the College of DuPage.
Peña didn’t have the high school diploma required to take graphic design classes. Out of desperation, Peña says, he told a college dean an elaborate white lie.
“I said, ‘Listen, I’m from Mexico, I want to take college classes here, but my school in Mexico burned down so they have no records about my degree in high school,'” Peña said..
The dean cut Peña a deal — if he passed the graphic design class, he could continue his college education. So, that’s what Peña did.
Life was good, and got better in 1997 when he met Michelle, the beautiful green-eyed teacher he first spotted dancing with another man at a suburban night club. Peña cut in that night, and married Michelle three years later.
Juan and Michelle Peña (Provided by Juan Peña) Michelle convinced Peña to take a job at La Grange Country Club, a few suburbs away. There Peña worked as a bartender in the member’s lounge. Rich guys loved him. They called him “Juany,” and sometimes tipped him in $100 bills. A club member who ran a small health care marketing agency asked, “What can you do for me?”
“I said, ‘Anything. Anything.’ And ‘I went from being a waiter at a country club … to an agency,” Peña said.
Great-Grandma Inspired Hunt For “Good Juice”
Over the next 16 years, Peña climbed the corporate later working as a graphic designer and eventually art director at renowned advertising firms — Draftfcb, Razorfish and Laughlin-Constable, among them. Along the way, Peña earned awards, promotions, media mentions for his work promoting Fortune 500 brands including KFC, McDonald’s, Intel, Special K and, most prophetically, Tequila el Jimador, where he got his first taste of booze branding.
That work brought back memories of watching his great-grandma making pulque, an ancient alcoholic drink made from the maguey plant, in her backyard. The traditional Central Mexico concoction looks like milk, tastes like sour yeast and people have been drinking it for more than 2,000 years, including Peña’s “bisabuela,” who lived to be 115 years old.
“I started to connect more with my roots and reminiscing where my mom is from and what her family did with the pulque,” Peña said. “You go to Oaxaca and everybody makes mezcal. That’s how I grew up. I grew up very humble. My family didn’t have money … when I was in Mexico, mezcal was for the poor people. It was the cheapest.”
Soon after, mezcal started popping up in posh Chicago bars. The high-end stuff was going for upwards of $35 for a two-ounce pour. Peña’s marketing instincts kicked in.
“Being Mexican [in Chicago] I’m like oh, man … I can make a mark on this thing. I know the culture. I know the flavors and, god damn, I speak the language,” Peña said.
In 2016, Peña quit his job as associate creative director at one of the world’s biggest ad agencies, FCB Chicago, and headed south of the border to Oaxaca, where more than 87% of mezcal is made.
A river cuts directly through the heart of San Pedro Totolapa, a small mezcal-producing pueblo home to fewer than 2,000 people where Peña found his good juice. He won the trust of four different distillers there by offering them a fair deal, speaking in the region’s indigenous language, and treating them with respect, a quality that locals will tell you many other American mezcal importers lack.
Prolijo Mezcal importer Juan Peña takes a selfie with an unidentified mezcalero. (Provided by Juan Peña) “I feel a responsibility in the [mezcal] scene,” Peña said. “It’s not really so much about selling the spirit as it is in selling the culture.”
Peña has big plans to grow the Prolijo Mezcal brand amid an agave-liquor gold rush fueled by a furry of tequila drinkers converting to mezcal. Mezcal production doubled from 2014 to 2016. Industry experts expect mezcal production to triple by 2023 due to growing demand in the U.S. and more recently, around the world, according to a report in El Financiero .
Peña launched the Prolijo Mezcal brand without a distributor a little more than a year ago at the 2018 National Restaurant Show in Chicago. With the help of his buddy Miguel Gonzalez, Peña pitched his $49-a-bottle mezcal to bartenders, restaurant managers, liquor store owners, anyone who would take an appointment. Prolijo Mezcal turned its first profit in December.
Now, you can find Prolijo Mezcal at bars in Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, and even in Plainfield, behind the bar at Sovereign and Station One Smokehouse.
Prolijo Mezcal (Paul Biasco) If you come across a bottle along your drinking journey, ask the bartender to pour it neat so you can savor the hint of cooked agave, lingering alcohol burn and oily aftertaste, that only comes from the backbreaking work of mezcaleros who make it one batch at a time.
And if you want to impress a mezcal head, tell ’em about Peña, the unlikely importer of Plainfield’s finest fermented agave hearts, whose story pairs perfectly with the stringent hit of pine in Prolijo, Batch No. 2.
Paul Biasco is a journalist and restaurateur from Chicago who lives most of the year in Mexico City. His work has appeared in Architectural Digest, Kitchen Toke, Eater and Motherboard.
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True West Friday, Jul 19 at 7:30pm

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