Damien del Rio

Williamsburg, BK
Entering Sauced feels as though you’re stepping into a too-cool, European, members’ only club. Except for the fact that it is open for anyone and everyone who enjoys good wine, and there are virtually zero rules other than to indulge and enjoy. Located on Williamsburg’s infamous main street, Bedford Avenue, this wine bar sits tucked away on its own near the Williamsburg Bridge. We sat down with Damien, one of the three founders to talk about that je ne sais quoi Sauced has that everyone is so drawn to.
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Full name, age where are you from?

Damien del Rio, Bed Stuy / Bushwick Brooklyn.

What was growing up like for you and did you have family meals growing up?

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.

What meal most reminds you of your childhood?

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.

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How did you get into this industry?

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.

What is your current role and how has the pandemic affected you?

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.

What do you think working in this industry during this time has taught you?

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.

What's your fave item on this menu? off menu?

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.

Once it is completely safe to eat out again and socialize, where is the first place you would go for dinner and what would you order?

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.

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