208: Erick Castro | Treat It Like You Own It


menu-topIn today’s episode we chat about: focusing on hospitality; the importance of culture; why you need to treat every moment of your career like your building a resume; treating it like you own it; staying hungry for knowledge; and the one question you should be asking during all of your interviews.

Erick Castro initially built his cocktail empire at San Francisco’s Rickhouse and Bourbon & Branch by searching for obscure recipes, methods and ingredients that originated prior to Prohibition. His beverage programs have been place on some of the nation’s most coveted lists, including Esquire’s Best Bars in America, Food & Wine’s “World’s Top Bars” and countless nominations at the prestigious Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards in New Orleans, and was recognized by the StarChefs organization as “Rising Star Mixologist” in 2010.In 2013, Castro partnered up with Southern California’s hospitality collective, CH Projects, to launch Polite Provisions –which quickly received accolades such as Imbibe magazine’s Cocktail Bar of the Year 2014 and Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Bars. In 2014, he teamed up with the team behind Cocktail Kingdom to create Boilermaker in New York City, where it quickly earned a reputation. Also, in 2014, Castro, co-created Follow The Liter, an irreverent series of cocktail tutorials. On top of all this Castro manages the PossessedBySpirits.com blog and his newest project BartenderAtLarge.com, which he tells us more about at the end of the episode!

 Show notes…

Today’s Sponsor


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Favorite Success Quote or Mantra.

The way you do anything is the way you do everything

Whats Your Purpose, or Your “WHY”?

Erick simply wants this world to drink better. The craft cocktail is of american origin, he wants to remind people who when you’re drinking a craft cocktail your drink a piece of American history.

Your “It” Factors

  • Focus on hospitality
  • Hungry to learn. Be
  • Self-critical. You need to be able to look at yourself and analyze what you could do better.
  • Competes with no one, but the past version of himself. Everyday show up and be better than you were the day before.

Career Challenge or Failure

  • During one of his first management roles, he failed by trying to change the culture from the top down.
  • The culture needs to be established from the beginning.
  • You can not make unmotivated people motivated.

Knowledge bombs

1. What advice do you have for funding a restaurant?

Every project you work on is a resume builder. Treat every moment of  your life, like a potential investor is watching you. “Treat it like you own it.”

2. Success is so dependent on your people. Whats your advice on hiring, managing and retaining people.

Find out what your core values are and live by them. If you do that long enough, your staff will respect you, but first you need to respect your staff.

Create an atmosphere of empathy and trust.

When you’re interviewing ask “What are you passionate about?” You want to look to see if they can get excited about something.

3. What are some current challenges or industry challenges you see coming. 

People developing creative business models that aren’t profitable or sustainable. It is as if these businesses are created to be personal business cards. They’re self-serving and self promoting. At the end of the day these businesses don’t support their communities and aren’t in business for the right reasons.

4. How do you balance work and life?

You need to prioritize what is important to you and say no to things that will jeopardize spending time with who you love or what you love. Stay focused on what matters.

5. Recommended book?


Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

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6. Recommended tool or technology?

Ctuit– Ctuit is the creator of RADAR, a restaurant management software suite of tools and dashboards that give insight into restaurant activities and performance.

7. With all the knowledge you have now, if you could go back in time and give your past self one piece of business advice, What would it be and why?

Be humble. You’re always learning. Be skeptic of people who have all the answers.

8. What is one question you think should be added to this interview?

Q: What is your favorite cocktail right now?

A: Boulevardier

Contact Info

Website: bartenderatlarge.com

Twitter: @bartendatlarge

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining today! Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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Huge thanks to Erick Castro for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!