Chamber Launches First ‘What’s Brewing Burbank?’ Event

Photo by David Laurell / Burbank Leader | Jamie Keyser Thomas and Leslie Smith welcome Mayor Jess Talamantes (center) to the Hotel Amarano.

First published in the Feb. 26, 2022, print issue of the Burbank Leader.

The Burbank Chamber of Commerce recently kicked off their new “What’s Brewing in Burbank?” program, designed to give residents the opportunity to have coffee at different venues around town while being updated on what is happening in the city by prominent speakers.

The inaugural presentation of “What’s Brewing in Burbank?” took place at the Hotel Amarano, with nearly to 100 attendees welcomed by the hotel’s general manager, Peter Kolla; the chamber’s board chair, Steve Mora; CEO, Jamie Keyser Thomas; and member services director, Leslie Smith.

“We see this new program as a three-pronged approach to serving our community,” Keyser Thomas explained. “To give people the opportunity to mix and mingle, to learn about what is going on in our community, and to highlight some of our city’s great venues.”

Photo by David Laurell / Burbank Leader | Gema and Rey Sanchez greet Police Chief Michael Albanese (center) during the “What’s Brewing in Burbank?” event.

Promising to give attendees to these free-of-charge events — which will be open to anyone the chance to meet, hear from and question individuals who play a key role in Burbank — the chamber began the series by delivering the big guns: Mayor Jess Talamantes and Police Chief Michael Albanese.

Talamantes provided an overview on how the city operates, explained some newly adopted ordinances, gave updates on new business and restaurant openings, and encouraged everyone to download the city’s new 311 app designed to improve how residents obtain information, report problems and connect with local government.

Following the mayor, Albanese told the assemblage that he oversees a department that is open 24/7 and is ready at a moment’s notice to pivot and address any situation taking place in order to keep Burbankers safe.

“I like to take full credit for that,” Albanese said. “But it is the men and woman of our department — sworn and unsworn — who [do that] through their dedication.

Photo by David Laurell / Burbank Leader | Peter Kolla (right) of the Hotel Amarano welcomed Burbank Chamber of Commerce board Chairman Steve Mora.

The chief also spoke about how his department deals with the issue of homelessness.

“We have a mental evaluation team who is trained to deal with homeless individuals with dignity, sustained care and intervention,” he explained.

He also fielded question about traffic flow, speeding and safety measures for small business owners and employees.

The Burbank Chamber of Commerce plans to make the “What’s Brewing in Burbank?” program a regularly recurring event and is also currently working on their 2022 Excellence Awards gala that will be held on April 30 at Pickwick Gardens.

For more information on either of those events, or chamber membership, visit

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at, or (818) 563-1007.

Photo by David Laurell / Burbank Leader | Among those in attendance at the inaugural “What’s Brewing in Burbank?” event were former Mayors Sharon Springer and Michael Hastings.