Kevin Peters from Garden State Hotel talks challenges and attitude
Tell us a bit about your role?
I’ve been hired as the bar manager here. We have four public bars and a private event space for 120 people as well. Upstairs is set up as a pub, with 10 classic cocktails and four shared cocktails on offer; at the back of the venue Garden Grill restaurant, headed by Ashly Hicks — an amazing modern Aussie chef who is just killing it right now; and then in the bottom basement downstairs we have the Rose Garden, which is our 200-person cocktail lounge, where we have an additional 10 bespoke signature cocktails, and a seasonal menu.
So you’ve kind of got your work cut out for you then?
It’s a beast of a venue. We’re licensed for 840 people, so it’s a bit of a change from the last few
places I’ve worked I guess.
What are some of the challenges involved in the role?
One of the biggest challenges initially was like any bar, which was the consistency, aesthetically and just a nice tasting cocktail every single time. At the moment, we’re doing six thousand cocktails a week, whichever bar they’re delivered from they delivered at the highest standard. The day to day things, it’s just the same as any other bar but on a bigger scale. We’re pretty fortunate to have a great team here, so there’s a million eyes on everything, lots of checklists to get it done, every single day.
So would you say it’s key to have systems in place?
I’m so thankful for my cellar manager, the systems that he’s helped me put in place; we’re batching all our cocktails, creating SKUs to make sure that stocktake is on point — our back of house systems, our front of house service systems, they’re incredibly important.
Tell us a bit about your background?
I didn’t do so well at school, and kind of fell into bartending. I started off in restaurants and really loved it, mainly in Sydney, but I’m fortunate to be an Aussie-American with dual passports. So I did the Sydney traps for a while, did nightclubs from Moulin Rouge to Chinese Laundry back in the day; the last place I worked in Sydney was LoFi and helped to open The Standard, which was quite cool. I then moved to New York and stayed there for three years, which was a whole other career in itself I feel.
What are some of the differences between New York and Australia?
Just the population, every single night of the week you are absolutely slammed if you’re at the right bar.
Are there any things that you wish bartenders would just stop doing?
My biggest thing is just drive; the biggest thing I’ve learned at this place is attitude over knowledge. You can’t teach someone attitude, but you can teach everyone how to pour a beer or make a cocktail.