Damien del Rio, Bed Stuy / Bushwick Brooklyn.
I grew up in my grandparents restaurant & social club on Myrtle aveand Spencer, right by the Home Depot. We actually lived on Nostrand & Gates. I used to walk to my grandparents restaurant nearly everyday after school. Their restaurant was full of local personalities that were basically our family. My family meals were there. I would jump behind the counter and help myself to whatever was in the steam pan. Usually it was some combination of rice and beans with pernil, roasted chicken, or king fish escabeche.
Blood sausage or any dish featuring pig ears. My grandmother's recipe was the best but if I see either of those items on a menu I am definitely ordering it. Somehow I am immediately transported back to being 10 years old again.
All the men in my family cook. Originally I thought that's what I wanted to do. Life had other plans. I worked in commercial real estate for 10 years in NYC. I mostly did retail & hospitality, working very closely with operators from Paris and London establishing presence in the New York market. I really liked the idea of curating a community through retail. In working with developers I was looking for operators that had a fresh look at the industry. I guess at some point I had an itch to do something myself.
I operate our places. I create the concept, design, brand development,strategy, market implementation, operation workflow etc. The pandemic has pushed me into taking on other roles, now I lead our recruitment, social media, ad buys, web dev, and back office accounting, payroll,etc. My hands are pretty full these days.
That hospitality is truly a human business. We are in the business of creating an experience and servicing others. There is a saying, the best way to find yourself is in the service of others. In times like today this is so relevant. True hospitality transcends the bar &restaurant industries. It's a lifestyle that is centered on community and we need to align our business values with that.
Well that depends now on which establishment we are talking about and as much as I love to eat our food I prefer eating at a friends restaurant.
I've been out of the city a lot lately but I really need to get back to Llama Inn for that lomo saltado and Lilia for the lamb steak, but most of all I need to get back to Paris, I need me some of that poulet frites at Brutos.