Lane Hoss, vice president of operations at Anthony’s Restaurants based in Kirkland, Washington, has retired. Hoss spent 42 years at the company, almost all of that time overseeing Anthony’s wine and beverage program.
“She must be one of if not the most impactful Washington state wine marketers in history,” says Chris Sparkman, owner and founder of Sparkman Cellars in Woodinville.
Under Hoss’s leadership, Anthony’s wine program became a powerhouse. Across its 23 restaurants, Anthony’s currently offers 365 different wines representing 180 Northwest wineries.
“Lane became this iconic figure within the wine industry over the course of her career,” says Bob Betz, who spent 28 years working at Chateau Ste. Michelle and also founded his own winery, Betz Family. “She’s contributed so much to all of the positive change.”
A love of hospitality
A native of Seattle, Hoss started working in the hospitality industry at age 16 at the Seattle Center Food Circus. Initially, her intent was to put herself through college and then move on.
“After trying a couple different things, it dawned on me that I really loved the hospitality business,” Hoss says. “I loved the people. I loved wine.”
Hoss’s early career included positions at two of Seattle’s highest-flying restaurants, Latitude 47 and The Edgewater Inn. At the latter, she started as a hostess and became a captain and wine steward.
“I was the person in the long dress, flaming steaks at your table and doing crepes but also opening the wine,” Hoss says. “That’s where my interest in wine started.”
Hoss decided she wanted to open her own restaurant. To get there, she sought more operations experience. People in the industry gave her a name: Budd Gould.
Gould founded Anthony’s Restaurants in 1969. The concept was to focus on local Northwest fare.
“Budd was visionary in his idea that he wanted his restaurant to be the epitome of a Northwest dining experience,” Hoss says.
Believing in local meant serving Washington wine
Almost immediately, Hoss, who has training as a sommelier, was put in charge of Anthony’s wine program. One of her first tasks was transitioning Anthony’s to an all-west coast if not exclusively Washington wine list.
At that point, Washington had fewer than two dozen wineries. Initial customer response was tepid.
“It was a hard sell,” Hoss says. “I was looking for the best in Washington and then also trying to figure out, ‘How do I put a stamp of credibility on both myself and the wines?’”
Still, Hoss persisted. She touted medals the wines received to help burnish their image. The restaurant even went so far as to list any wine coming from outside Washington as “imported.”
“Lane really established Washington wines on our menus,” says Amy Burns, Anthony’s CEO and the daughter of founder Budd Gould. “She helped my dad realize that mission of being local long before it was popular.”
A focus on story-telling and relationships
Under Hoss’s leadership, Anthony’s wine program emphasized story-telling. Hoss regularly led trips with the Anthony’s team to eastern Washington to visit wineries and vineyards.
“When the wineries are making good wines and there’s a story to tell behind them, people are very supportive,” Hoss says. Wine menus also contained appellation maps and other material to provide context.
For Hoss, including wines on the Anthony’s list was never just a matter of dollars and cents. She knew it was also tacit endorsement of the winery and everything that came with it. She regularly made unannounced visits to wineries and tasting rooms.
“It was important to me to see how guests were treated and how knowledgeable the staff were on the wines before I became involved with selling their wines,” Hoss says.
On all sides of its business, from farmers to seafood suppliers to wineries, Hoss and Anthony’s prized relationships. Those relationships started as small seeds and blossomed into long-term alliances. The restaurant has worked with many producers over decades.
“Lane always, always made us feel like family,” Sparkman says.
A growing business and industry
Over time, Anthony’s flourished, opening up new locations. Hoss did too, being promoted to beverage director, marketing director, vice president of marketing, vice president of marketing and operations, and ultimately retiring at the end of last December as vice president of operations.
As Anthony’s expanded to new locations, the restaurants catered to local clientele. Spokane would feature more wines from that area. Coeur d’Alene would have more Idaho wines on its list.
“In my time, no two wine lists were ever exactly the same,” Hoss says.
All the while, the Washington wine industry kept growing by leaps and bounds. Over time, there needed to be a process to give new wineries and other businesses a chance. In the ‘90s, Hoss formed a tasting committee where staff members would blind taste wine, beer, and spirits. That process continues today.
“Nobody got left out of the equation,” Sparkman says. “You see the lists, there’s wines from all over the state and all different tiers and all different styles.”
Influencing the broader industry
The list of accolades Hoss accrued over her career is long. Among them, the Washington Wine Commission awarded Hoss the Victor Rosellini Restaurateur of the Year award in 1995. In 2003, Hoss became the first recipient of the Walter Clore Honorarium Award from the Commission. (Full disclosure: I have consulted for the Washington State Wine Commission since 2013.) That same year, Anthony’s received the inaugural Washington Wine First Award.
“I honestly couldn’t measure the impact that she’s had,” says Sparkman. “Think about how many guests they market to for us every day, week, month, and year. You can’t put a price on that.”
Over the course of Hoss’s 42 years at Anthony’s, the Washington wine industry grew from a small handful of wineries to nearly 1,100 today. Wine production increased from 13,000 tons in 1982 when Hoss started at Anthony’s to 240,000 tons in 2022. Hoss played an out-sized role manifesting those changes.
“It always gets back to those who are truly pioneers, that collective group of people who made a difference within our industry,” Betz says. “Lane is part of that. We all owe her a great debt of gratitude for her leadership, for her knowledge, and for her persistence within the industry.”
NB: My wife worked at Anthony’s corporate office from 2013 to 2020, including time as a direct report to Hoss.
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