Meet Lello Arzedi, Beverage Director for the Swillhouse venues

Interview by Leah Dunnigan, Head Bartender at The Baxter Inn @leahdunnigan

With 17 years in hospitality including a recent stint at the Coogee Pavilion and Will’s and Mimi’s, Lello is no stranger to the Sydney hospitality scene. He’s recently taken on the title of Beverage Director for the Swillhouse industry-leading venues.

How did you get started in the hospitality industry?
The industry really sparked my interest when I was around 11 back in Sardinia, where I am from. I saw the art and magic of bartending in this hotel I visited with my parents. I was captivated by the bartender’s skills, his personality and gracefulness in his craft and it became fluid from there. I then decided to go to the hospitality school of Alghero. After my first year of school, I started to do summer jobs around hotels in Sardinia and every year I did so until I completed my study and this kicked off my work career.

“I would love the industry to slow down for a second, take a deep breath and go back to basics. I come from the old school hospitality where the way how you present yourself was your business card.”

What venues have you worked at over the years?
I have worked in quite a few places in my career, but since I moved to Sydney I have worked at Vasco bar, Pino’s Vino e Cucina, Maybe Group, Scout, Iceberg Group, Mimi’s and Will’s and now Swillhouse.

What is your new role at Swillhouse and how has working with the group been?
Beverage Director, Overseeing the bars, cocktail creation and menu development. recruitment, training and development. Beverage Financials. Culture. I have always admired their work, they are unique in everything they do and nostalgic at the same time. Their love for the craft, art and hospitality is unreal. I have probably never worked with so many talented people simultaneously, also beautiful humans, I feel pleased every day to go to work.


What has your first focus been since starting this new role?
Building relationships with all staff across all venues, which is for me the most important thing to do with the people you work with.

What are some other changes/ improvements in hospitality you would like to see?
I would love the industry to slow down for a second, take a deep breath and go back to basics. I come from the old school hospitality where the way how you present yourself was your business card. A clean and ironed shirt and apron, a smiling face and the attention to keep a table clean and a water glass always topped up. I miss the old school, I miss rules, I miss the savoir-faire.

Should we expect to see any of these improvements within the Swillhouse?
Too early to answer this question but definitely I will work hard to influence the new generation and share my passion for hospitality.

What have you loved about hospitality so far?
Way too many things. Hospitality is my first love, I could never do any other job, I love serving people and making them happy, giving a memory and making them feel special, as well as the creativity is a big thing, I love creating drinks and sharing knowledge with like-minded.

Are there any mentors that have helped shape your career?
Max Greco (ex-owner of Vasco bar) he’s the first person in Australia that believed in me and taught me how to create the atmosphere in venue, also to learn the rules before having fun.
Matt Whiley (owner of Re) made me believe in myself and in my creative mind.
Federico Zanardi (Chef owner of Lumi dining) Perfection can only be achieved with hard work and consistency.
Davide Colombo (Martini ambassador in Italy) one of the best bartenders I have worked with, Davide refined my skills and service, he always told me to slow down and to be precise then fast, to pick the coldest glass in the fridge and chose the best ice in the well.

As a mentor now yourself, what are your tips for anyone looking to move forward in their hospitality career?
1. Be humble, honest, work hard and always be on time
2. Work in the hospitality industry only if you truly love it.
3. Learn the rules before having fun
4. Don’t take a manager position before you’re 25, it will stop you from growing.
5. Never work less than one year in one place, and never more than three years. Move around to different venues and cities, it will help you to learn different ways to do things and be more humble.
6. Spend your money in good restaurants to learn attention to detail and good service.
7. Drink for pleasure and sometimes for fun.
8. Don’t work for who offer you more money but for who will dedicate their time to your development

What are you most excited about for this year (2023)?
With Swillhouse we are about to open two new venues which are stunning. Le Foote (later in 2023) which is going to be a great addition to The Rocks and a European wine bar with a restaurant and another venue on the horizon opening later this year.