If you’ve ever dreamt of hanging in restaurants and bars all day, you’re not the only one. Just ask ESquared Hospitality creative director Samantha Wasser, who is responsible for the creative health (from concept creation and décor to marketing and strategic partnerships) of a host of New York hotspots, including Horchata, Juni, Bar Naná and The Wayfarer. Here, we chatted with the nightlife maven about a day in her life, her favorite part of the job, and what she’s stocking at the bar.
BoozeMenus: When did you know for sure that the hospitality industry was where you were meant to be?
Samantha Wasser: I think I always knew in the back of my head that I would end up in the hospitality industry at some point. About 3 years after college, I took a leap of faith and joined the family business and have not looked back since.
BM:How would you describe a typical day in your role?
SW: I wish I could make this answer a bit more glamorous but in reality I am checking emails, working on new potential projects, researching new markets and concepts. Most recently, I've found myself on my feet either checking in at Horchata or site searching around the city for a new concept we are working on.
BM: When you take on a new project, what is the most important goal you keep in mind?
SW: Definitely the design of the space as well as the projects branded identity. First and foremost it's super important to determine the key audience for the project which lends itself to the overall creative vision for the project.
BM: From initial creative concept to opening, which part of the process speaks to you the most?
SW: The hardest is definitely coming up with a name. However the best part of the project is when you see the name and space come to life through decor and branding. It's really amazing to finally open the doors of a new restaurant and see people's reactions as they walk by or come in for the first time.
BM: Of all the projects you've worked on, which menu have you most connected with, and why?
SW: I would have to say Horchata. I must admit I was previously not a fan of cilantro or spicy foods and after working on the menu and countless tastings i now have a broader palate which is crazy!
BM: What's your go-to cocktail, and why? At which of your venues can we find it?
BM: What about this industry has come as the biggest surprise to you?
SW: There never seems be a dull moment in the restaurant industry. Things are happening in real time all of which always seem to be super pressing!
BM:What do you hope to lend to a project?
SW: A different perspective that is young and fresh. I approach all projects from the point of a consumer. I try to ask myself what would appeal to me and my friends and pretty much go from there.
BM: What's your favorite part of the job, hands down?
SW: The excuse to always be eating! At least that's what I tell myself!
BM: What spirit/liqueur will your home bar always carry?
SW: Domaines Ott Rośe.
Interview By Nicole Schnitzler
(Photos From Left: Bar Naná Interior; Samantha Wasser; Bar at Horchata)