Matt Smith | Owner

Matt is the owner of Knoxville Bartending School. He has a passion for bartending that started at a young age, bartending as soon as he was old enough.


He graduated from the Professional Bartending School in Atlanta and spent the next ten years bartending clubs, restaurants and private parties in Georgia.


Matt’s expertise in Mixology, hospitality, and consulting has created many opportunities allowing him to develop and hone his passion. His love for the industry shows in his teaching and loves to help prospective bartenders reach their goals.


Rick Vance | Director

Rick has been an active member of the Hospitality Industry for over 30 years. He uses his extensive background as a professional musician to keep an engaging and upbeat classroom environment.


His experience in management, bartending and training covers a range of dynamics. These areas include restaurant, hotel, nightclub, riverboat,sports bar, brewery, convention and catering in both corporate and private establishments.


Rick has been a State of Tennessee Certified Alcohol Server Trainer for 15+ years.

"I remember starting out in this industry and the people who helped me elevate my skills, energize my passion and achieve success.
There is a wealth of opportunity in this industry and in the spirit of giving back, I have personally trained hundreds of bartenders and servers that have taken their place among the best and I will be honored to guide you on a path towards excellence.”

Denny Phillips | Instructor

Specializing in beer and wine, Denny has been a fixture behind East Tennessee bars for 25 years.


He vast experience ranges from single-store operations to fine dining and corporate management. His experience in staff training and management offers students a keen insight into what students can expect when entering into the workforce. His talent for engaging guests and turning them from visitors into regulars is invaluable in helping students turn a job into a profitable career.


Denny has been a State of Tennessee Certified Alcohol Server Trainer for 5+ years and gives students a unique perspective on how to maximize profits while maintaining a safe environment for patrons.

“When I entered the hospitality industry, I never imagined how rewarding the field could be. Bartending is more than a paycheck, its been a great way of developing lifelong friendships and relationships while having fun in a fast paced environment.
I was fortunate enough to have people take me under their wing and help take me from an unpolished rookie into a knowledgeable professional and instructing at Knoxville Bartending School affords me the opportunity to pay it forward to the next generation of bar professionals."