Fabio Spinetti on his new role as head of bars at the Carlton Tower Jumeirah

Photo for: Fabio Spinetti on his new role as head of bars at the Carlton Tower Jumeirah

31/01/2022 When Covid struck, Fabio Spinetti was made redundant from his role, but has bounced back and has just started a new role as Head of Bars at the newly-renovated The Carlton Tower Jumeirah.

Where do you work? 

The Carlton Tower Jumeirah.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you begin your career and how did you progress into this role?

I started working as a bartender, like most of us today in this industry, as a summer job to pay for my university. Little did I know that I would be bitten by the hospitality bug and this would be my career of choice; so I didn't return to university and started working as a full-time bartender, to the joy of my parents as one can imagine. Moved to London in October 2009 and landed a job as a Bartender at the Coburg Bar at the Connaught, which has taught me so much. I moved up until I became Bar Manager, keeping this position for the last 2 and half years of my 8-year tenure at the Connaught, before moving to The Café Royal to take care of the opening of two bars plus the one they already had.

A year and a half later I was promoted to Assistant Director of Food & Beverage and 6 months into the new role Covid struck. Not the best time to be an Assistant, of course, and I was then made redundant in the summer.

I have then been contacted by Jumeirah for the reopening of The Carlton Tower, a hotel that underwent a 120-million pound renovation that had great plans for its future and started there in December. Here I am now working as Head of Bars, a few weeks after having officially opened our doors to the world.


Define your role and the tasks involved in your role.

I am the Head of Bars; in my role, I take care of the 2 bars of the Hotel. I came up with the concepts for the 2 bars and after recruiting the Team we worked together towards the realization of the menus. It is an ongoing role as one can imagine during an opening. I take care of the day-to-day running of the bars, menu concept and updates, marketing and collaborations, recruitment, training, product selection, and so on.

What questions would you ask the bar owner before you plan your sales growth strategy?

What are the plans for the bar in the mid and long term, what is the current strategy, and what do we feel didn't work or needs a different approach? Who are our key targets/demographics and is there a chance to include a wider part of the population, and if so in which way.

How can suppliers work with you to drive sales?

Through training (the most important thing to me still is the advancement of the Team and that only starts through training), collaborations for events, press dinners, and the likes. It is not about selling a product, it is about awareness and letting your clientele know that products are the heart of what we do but there is a human component as well without which noting works

What do you look for items that qualify for house pour

The story, production method, branding, price

What do you look for items that qualify for non-house pours

The story, suitability with the menu and bar concept, contribution to a balanced offer (cheap, medium, expensive)

What are the four main things you focus on daily in your role?

Staff happiness (do they have all the tools they need to do their job? do they need something in particular? What trainings would they like to see happening?), organization (rota has been sent on time, everyone aware of their role and duties, nothing missing), service delivery (is the Team knowledgeable about menu/offer and standards? Are they able to deliver service consistently and at the highest possible level?), improvement (how can we do tomorrow what we have done today but better, seamlessly, in a more organized way, in a more interesting/unexpected way, what is the next thing for us?)

5 ways to upsell drinks at the bar

Menu of the "specials" for a specific period or event, interesting stories, simple menus, verbal offers. 

Tips on training new bartenders

Start from the beginning, assess what one knows but make it a point that every place has its own standards. Value experience and channel energy into what needs to be completed but always keeping in mind that different people have different reactions to the same input, a Bar Manager needs to be able to identify strengths and weaknesses and work on them together with the bartender.

What's trending in the UK drinks scene? cocktails, brand names, categories?

Certainly, the no & low category is one that is extremely popular at the moment and hopefully will help turn the page from the orange juice + cranberry juice or a soda-lime that most people would receive, even in 5-star hotels, when asking for a non-alcoholic cocktail. Everleaf, Roots, and now Sipsmith are among the brands that have taken this new wave pretty seriously.

Agave is still a very strong category and I have a feeling that all-things-rum is also a raising category once again.

In terms of cocktails, Italian classics like Bellini and Garibaldi (and the various variations on the theme) seem to be still going strong

What's customer service to you

It is the type of customer service I would like to receive: knowledgeable, amicable, friendly but not too much, always professional and discreet. The bartender/waiter is there to help and to serve and is aware of the guest's needs before even the guest himself/herself is aware of needing it. Anticipating guests' needs is customer service in a nutshell to me.

Define a good bartender

Knowledgeable, professional, with great people skills, with a different approach to each guest, able to read a table and understand what type of service is needed, always keeping himself/herself updated on the last trends, always wanting to progress and learn more

How do you manage non-performing brands

Just not working with them

How can you increase your beverage sales with the selection you already have.

Special offers, events, "one-week only", bar takeovers, promotion

How according to you has the role of the Bartender evolved, especially now during Covid times?

It is an ever-evolving role. The industry took a bad beating from the pandemic and bartenders are at the forefront of what this industry needs now: smiles, professionalism, and a properly made drink

What else do you look for in a brand before saying yes apart from quality, value, and package?

Story and possibility of collaboration for something more than training

Give us an example of a common problem in the bar business and how you handle it.

Staffing and retention; I like to think it is all in the management and your day-to-day approach. If your team feels valued and cared for will always go the extra mile and will stay longer

Your favorite places to enjoy drinks in London?

Coburg and Connaught Bars, Swift, Little Mercies, Happiness Forgets.

What's the best part of your job?

Service, launching new menus, seeing my Team growing and progressing, the heartfelt "thanks" from a satisfied guest

What's the worst part of your job?

Emails, corporate politics



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