The Future of Hospitality with Ago Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani
World-renowned bartending duo Ago Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani of The Connaught have assembled a team of some of the biggest names in bartending today for our newest series, exploring the future of hospitality with the people who know it best – bartenders.
Listed in the World’s 50 Best Bars for the past ten years running and named as World’s Best Bar 2020, The Connaught is known for its impeccable service, charming bartenders, and free-flowing Martinis. At the helm, Ago and Giorgio have led their team to stratospheric success, cementing themselves as two of the most influential bartenders in the world.
Benja is a notorious globe trotter and is equally at home in London, Berlin, LA, and NYC as he is in his home country. Known for his trademark smile and signature ‘Margarita Al Pastor’, which combines Tequila with taco seasoning, Benja’s influence and experience make him an ideal confidant when it comes to discussing the future of the bar industry.
As always, Benja is keen to point out the importance of focusing on the guest, as well as the drinks. “Good treatment of the customer is always important, there are so many bars that you go to and they have great cocktails, but sometimes how they serve you is not so good, so you need to feel at home when you go to a bar. The focus is on the consumer because this is a business, the consumer is the one with the money, so we need to take care of them.” Ago is quick to agree, noting that at The Connaught the focus is on meeting the guest’s expectations, every time they visit.
Asked what advice he might give to a younger version of himself, Benja notes the importance of being aware of your surroundings. “Always look around, not just at the customers in front of you. Sometimes they just want a napkin or the bill, but you need to be very open to all of the customers who come and visit you. We might focus on one or two people but you need to look around and make sure all your guests are OK.”
To make your venue stand out, Benja recommends building a strong team. “You need to translate your passion to your team. Teamwork is very important, you spend more time with the people you work with than your family so you need to make a great team, so the consumer feels good when they come and visit you, and you need to translate that passion to them.” Equally important, is being a part of a local community “I see community as a friendship, you create bonds with people, you travel and visit them and they visit you, they need to feel comfortable, you need to show the city, it’s a personal touch, so you have that friendship. You can belong to a community but if you don’t make those friendships, it’s a community with empty meaning.”
To keep himself motivated and inspired, Benja likes to keep himself characteristically busy. “The process of learning every day is very important. A month ago I went to the Culinary Institute of America to take a kitchen course. I think you need to be open and ready to learn every day. To recognize your mistakes is also very important. We are not perfect, we make mistakes and you need to recognize that and learn from your mistakes.”
For more of Benja’s words of wisdom, check out his full video interview and stay tuned for more in this series, created by hospitality for hospitality, as we look to navigate the future of the industry. Stay tuned for interviews with Vasilis Kyritsis of The Clumsies, Vijay Mudaliar of Native, and Ago and Giorgio themselves, coming soon to The Blend.