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Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

Feb 15, 2023

My guest this week is Inez Ribustello, a mother, wife, author, entrepreneur and beer and wine lover.

Inez got her start in the world of food and wine after moving to New York City from her home state of North Carolina. Her wine career took a huge leap forward when she became an Assistant Cellar Master at Windows on the World in One World Trade Center. In a very short time, she was promoted to Beverage Director.

After losing her job and her work family in the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Inez moved back to her hometown with her fiancé Stephen. Together they opened their own restaurant, wine bar and retail store called On the Square.

Inez' next big venture was Tarboro Brewing Company, a microbrewery that began operating in 2016. Almost a year later, she and her husband opened a satellite taproom in a neighboring town. Stephen and Inez have two children.

In September of 2021, Inez self-published her memoir Life After Windows, a book she wrote chronicling her journey from North Carolina to Manhattan.

5:31 – Inez 101

  • Most people in Tarboro call her “Ine” (pronounced eye-knee)
  • After getting a part-time job at a wine shop during culinary school, Inez realized she liked to drink more than she liked to cook.
  • After 9/11, she went back to North Carolina and opened a small restaurant.

10:59 – Moving to New York City

  • Inez didn’t have big plans for her life and wanted to get engaged in college. The man she loved moved to New York City, so she did, too.
  • She didn’t expect to fall in love with New York and fall out of love with the man she followed.

15:10 – Windows on the World

  • Inez was determined to work at Windows on the World, a restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center.
  • Inez read an article about the restaurant and the sommelier and decided she wanted to work there.

18:54 – Sept. 11, 2001

  • Inez went home to North Carolina to be in her sister’s wedding in September 2001.
  • She told all her co-workers goodbye before leaving work for what would be the last time.
  • Inez watched 9/11 unfold on TV and tried calling everyone she knew.

25:06 – The aftermath

  • When Inez saw where the plane hit the tower, she thought it would be a mess to clean up. She was in a state of shock and didn’t understand what was happening.
  • The hardest thing for her was the intense rage and anger that she had never experienced before.
  • Inez was so mad at God for what happened.

44:06 – Writing her memoir

  • A publisher she spoke with said no one would care about her or her book.
  • A woman encouraged Inez to write her book and publish it on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

56:20 – Get to know you

  • The last thing that made her laugh? Her son in high school is hysterical.
  • The last thing that made her cry? Talking with a friend.


I realized I liked to drink more than I liked to cook. No one ever told me you could make a career in wine.

The whole season after 9/11 was just such a lonely, brutal time.

The hardest thing for me was the intense rage and overwhelming anger that I had not experienced as a person because that’s not who I am. That lasted a really long time.

I was so mad at God, just furious [after Sept. 11].

I wasn’t a victim [of Sept. 11], but I lost people and I lost a place.