[00:28:35] Ryan Ratino For sure. Yeah. I mean, I've worked in places where, like, gearedons are thrown at across the kitchen and china's broken in your face and all of those things I mean, and like, physical contact that you know what I mean, everything that happens and that's like that. I'm only 28 years old, and even now that's like old school. That was, like, 8 years ago. You know, it's not like 35 years ago, 8 years ago. So I mean, yeah, kitchen cultures changing immensely. And I feel like with there's always a time and place for discipline and how you but you also have to realize that like everyone still human, right and deserves respect. And with that, I think that's the biggest part of the culture change. Like people are seeing that while disciplining and being diligent with, like your work and your efforts and focused you're but also being respectful to your team like them, they're in turn like respectful to you. They stay longer like a lot of people I know would go work for, like, the meanest, angriest but best cook. But they would only be like, ‘All right, I'm going here for six months.’ They like amp themselves up for that, like six months, you know, because they know it's going to be tortured, and it's like you don't have to if you don't carry that environment you could still be a great cook without , you know, I don’t want to curse but being—
Laura D’Alessandro The attitude.
Ryan Ratino Yeah exactly like, you know, like from there then, like, you get more from your team, they push harder, they give you more effort. They give you more of their time and, like, effort and constant like dedication to doing things the way that you want him done rather than like anything. And there's nothing in spite anymore. There's nothing. There's no like feeling of, like, disrespect or doing something because you did you did them wrong. You know, you don't have to deal with that kind of, like poor kitchen culture as much, you know, there's still out there, you know, it's it's. But I mean, even my to this day, I would still go stage in one of those kitchens to see. Like, you know, it's an educational thing. You got to see. Like what? What? Is it worth it for you? What can you get out of it? You know, at the same time, it's definitely going away quickly.
[00:30:38] Laura D’Alessandro Yeah. So you're 28. That’s like pretty amazing that you are where you are. Did you see yourself here at, at just some point near life for where you just like—
[00:30:53] Ryan Ratino Yeah, I never, I'm not one for, like, timelines really? Like, I don't set like, oh, but I mean like I have goals, right? Like I always have goals, but I never like, you know, by 30 I need to be an entrepreneur, by this age, you need to be married, like none of that kind of like stuff. Like I never, I did have goals and like I was. I mean, I thought by 30 if I could being an entrepreneur, I would be, like, happy right as an individual of my career, like with my trajectory of if you will. And then we just happened. I mean, there's a little bit of there’s luck involved in all of it, right? Timing, luck. All plays into everyone's like path. If you, however, you wanna put that, but, you know, and it just happened to work out, right? And then, I mean, if we're gonna have this opportunity, we opened and I was 27, right? Yeah. Yeah. 27. So, like we opened. And if you're going to have that opportunity in your hands at 27, it's like, well, let's not try and let go of it. And just like, run and push, push, push, kind of just try and get the most out of it. And I always wanted to earn a star like I said, you know, that it happened so quickly is amazing, you know? But now it's like, what else can we do? You know, I don't know. I just keep pushing. And now hopefully we open another restaurant that can earn a star—or two!
[00:32:13] Laura D’Alessandro Yeah. So let's talk a little bit about what's next for you. So you’re opening another space?
[00:32:19] Ryan Ratino Yeah. So in the same building here, we’ll be upstairs. We're going to do it's ah one floor, right. So, second floor. In the front half, you kind of enter into this very like, industry bar style where you can just really like this side of town, in my opinion, you know where do the cooks go after work? You know, a lot of go to H street. They go out to like, Copycat or down to like Service Bar. It's like, up here we can do something that's like appealing, serving like great curated like food and cocktails late. You know that and like all the things that I love to eat, but like wouldn't necessarily serve in the restaurant, you know? And I think that's like appealing to people like I love tater tots and caviar. So, like, let's do it right and like not make it two hundred dollars. Forty dollars, right? And then like I love hot dogs. So we're going to make, like our own, like cured and smoked hot dog for that space, the bar side up there. But then contained inside of there we're going to have a small room that seats 18 to 20 and wrapped around the kitchen counter seating where we're cooking like a 10 to 13 course progressive tasting menu of like all of the things that with Bresca, it's an amazing opportunity to try new things, but you could work on a project for a year and sell it all in one night, right? So up there, we're going to be open Wednesday through Saturday, serving 40 covers, hopefully every all four nights. And that one project and then last you weeks, because that's 160 covers a week versus a night. And yeah, we have that opportunity like our experiments to go further and try new things and then constantly evolve with that too, you know, and try a lot of new things because you're only batching them in small quantities and different vinegars. And we are playing a lot with fermentation and miso making and all of those things. So they take time and to just go through it in, like, two nights. It's it's like, Oh boy, yeah, there goes six months of patience right, which I have a very lack. So yeah, it's like yeah, so we're going for just like a really like great experience where you're involved in the kitchen the whole time, kind of like our laboratory. We're experimenting ferments in the jars on the shelves in the wall cookbooks. there just very like, kind of involved all the way through from the guests standpoint. No, no barriers at all um and then also, it creates a really nice dynamic for the kitchen culture, if you will, with four nights a week, you know off on Sundays and Monday. Sorry. And then there our service team is going to be very limited in that back space is only going to be like whoever's managing the the floor and then a somm. So then you have the kitchen on a tip pool because they'll be serving and clearing. So it's a totally different approach from a pay scale from everything that you know. You can work there as a cook and make like what you would consider probably sous chef salary at most places, and work four nights of service, one prep day, two days off guaranteed every week never any lunches or brunches. I mean, like, that's like the job I always dreamed of finding when I was a cook. So now that we can create that space and try and be like at the forefront of just like great cooking and knowledge and trying to like keep pushing like DC food scene as well as just the United States in general, just like very underrated, that's for real in the cooking world on constantly, just be like evolving, constantly evolving. I have no idea on in that space, though, and that's going to create an environment for people hopefully like work for three to five years and feel valued and kind of like, which then creates a very stable restaurant to write. So it's exciting. I'm very excited about that. Just opportunity, you know, nerd out well on food and really, like, be involved, engaged with the guests right there and kind of just like gauge people's feelings about new things that we're doing and all of that, you know.
[00:36:26] Laura D’Alessandro Right like a little bit of a test kitchen atmosphere.
Ryan Ratino Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Laura D’Alessandro And so I’m always so curious about these, like, sort of limited hours modes, limited staffing models. How do you decide that that is a good business move, like it sounds like you're very confident in it, and I think it's probably going to do really well. But people are usually really afraid to limit anything. So how did you feel comfortable?
[00:36:48] Ryan Ratino Yeah, I think with that, like, the caveat is that we have the bar. So, like while the restaurant, like the intimate like restaurant side, will only be open four nights a week, the bar's still there to help support which that'll be open six days a week. So that's there to like, help, support whatever. And everyone’s scared, obviously, financially, right? So, like it's like, how do you maintain the finances? And like a price point, is the one thing like we're going to keep the price point super reasonable, but enough to where we can support the restaurant and then also then the bar side is there to kind of like a be that, like, you know, it's open later. It draws in like the industry. And if we can, if you can create a place that's like supported by the industry, I feel like it, it’ll, it's a great business move. And just like and I mean everyone is saying these days, like the biggest contributing factor is labor, right? Like labor is what it is. You can easy, easy, subjective, but to control like beverage costs and food costs. But people need a living wage. So now, by providing opportunity for this. The team to be like part of a tip pool, then helps the restaurant kind of like balance. It's cost a little bit better and also is better for the team, because then they get to make more money than they were just as a regular hourly cook, you know? So yeah, like we think it's going to work. I mean, it's starting to pop up more. I would say like, you know, what I want is my buddy’s become friends with, like some of the people at Bastion in Nashville and like one of my good friends is the chef de cuisine there. And I was there this summer and saw how their model work. And it's always something. I've had a business plan for a restaurant like this for, like, six years, even before Bresca and like, it's just it's harder to find investors for projects like that. Let's be really tasting menu projects are more volatile than great full service restaurants. But, yeah, it was like I saw their model and how they did it. It worked really well, works well for them and the way they do it. And it's great for the team to and I was like, you know, maybe now that we're starting to earn the confidence of like our peers and like that people in DC we can venture into something like that and, like, make it work for us too, and like um yeah that's exciting. It's not like it's starting to like, over like Momofuku Ko, Bastion, like there are these, like Brooklyn Fare, countertop experiences that are, like, very limited on service aspect. You know, I wouldn't say that Brooklyn Far is limited on the service aspect there very much involved from three Michelin star aspect. But, like, you know, like where you can, like, create a good business model but also a good model for your team to be like successful and live like a normal, not low-wage life style. So yeah.
[00:39:37] Laura D’Alessandro Yeah and then from a marketing perspective, is that sort of little bit of like exclusivity very appealing to people who want, like a different experience in the restaurant these days?
Maru Valdez Like the marketing for—
[00:39:58] Ryan Ratino For Jonte. Yeah, yeah. Like being that there's only 160 available reservations for week,
[00:40:03] Maru Valdez And yeah, and I think that for Washingtonians, they are very eclectic crowd and they're looking for something different like this. And although it's going to be a tasting menu, I think it's going to be completely different than the options that we have here. So I think that there are a lot of marketing opportunities, a lot of potential partnerships that we could also explored to promote this. Yeah, we're very excited about the whole concept.
Laura D’Alessandro Yeah. Yeah. And it's so interesting that there's going to be this focus on the bar being an industry bar. Where did that idea spring from?
[00:40:43] Ryan Ratino So we as, like, cooks. If you will ,never get to, like, cook with our friends, go. You know, you rarely get to like, cook with your friends when they're in their restaurant. You're in your restaurant. So the idea is to like, a place that you can have, like the community of, like cooks and chefs. And all of them come together at the end of the night and just, like, hang out and, like be in one place, right and share ideas, talk about food like we even now like me with what Adam opened up in in union market The Coconut I love what he's doing is like inviting so many people to like, share their ideas and like talk and all this in like even since he's open, that we've communicated, like, 20 times more than he did in the last year in like, a literal three week span, you know. And it's like once you open up that like space where people could come and feel comfortable and just like, engage and talking like share, ideas and things like that, I mean, like, it's exciting because you don't get to do that often with them. And that was like my whole thought behind it is just a place where we can hang out and, like, get together as a group and like not travel like across the city.
[00:41:50] Laura D’Alessandro Like in your neighborhood.
[00:41:53] Ryan Ratino Yeah exactly like a little incubator here, exactly in Northwest that we can just, like, have fun with, so and then the other style, too is like with Will being, he's got a lot of friends in the cocktail world, you know and like being able to do like bar pop ups and cocktail pop ups in the space. Like here we’re like bar restaurant Bresca, one space, no division, right. So, like there will have, the space as to where it's like, Hey, like so and so's coming from out of town to do a pop-up upstairs. We're going to set it up and like you have the spaces to work with, like your friends and like the rest of the community outside of D.C. as well and like really then and then that brings me to D.C. community to them to write. So, like when you do those collaborations, they come here. You get to like, experience with them what they're doing, and they get to experience what you're doing. Then the community and the team of, like cooks, bartenders, everything in D.C. then gets to come see what they're doing, too. So we want to be able to use it as, like that, like that, like incubators space where it's just like really, like, driven on like that like open social environment.
[00:42:59] Laura D’Alessandro Very cool. I think I have nearly come to the end of my time, I just want to ask you one more question for our readers who probably want to be like you and get a Michelin starred in 11 months. What's your advice to other restaurateurs? Or maybe what you know what are the biggest lessons you learned just in opening Bresca?
[00:43:21] Ryan Ratino I would, I think, like time commit commitment is a huge factor. Personally, I think that like creating a work-life balance is super important. But I do think like in the first, like 18, 24 months of the restaurant being open, it so volatile, it’s, it's so many people have never experienced your experience yet. Even now, we’re 18 months old, like literally right now today, and, like so many people have yet to experience, our like experience because there's so many people here. But you only have sixty chairs right in like kind of being there and being present that beginning time and just really like engaging with your team and trying to create like that environment where your team, like a lot of restaurants like flip their team like three times in the first year, right? And I mean not that we didn't have any turnover. But like some of these guys have worked. We've worked together for years now. Sous chef, four years, Like our new chef, my last chef de cuisine. We're eight years together working, and he just left to go to L.A. Like building that like, team that, like, environment where they feel like, appreciated and like, everyone feels like they're part of the vision. It's not just like yours, your way or the highway, you know. That that kind of like, like using it as an incubator. You know, to like, for everyone's ideas in listening has been huge for us because, like, it's evolved us as a restaurant, but I think dedicating time and, like, if you’re dedicating time, everything else comes along with it. Effort, you know, discipline, all of that becomes, like, inherent. So yeah.
Laura D’Alessandro So, just like go all in.
Ryan Ratino Yeah, if you're going to do it. Especially now. I mean, everyone's so, a lot of restaurants, right? A lot of restaurants opening everywhere. No matter what city you're in, I feel like it's like, man, we're opening, everywhere you go, we're opening so many restaurants so rapidly everywhere you go. So it's like, if you want to like you could be one of, you know, one of the 10 million or one of 400. So in order to be one of 400, you have to definitely dedicate the time in the passion that you have. So that way people can see it come through, yeah.
Laura D’Alessandro Well thank you guys so much, it’s been so great chatting with you.
Maru Valdez No, thank you!
[00:45:37] Laura D’Alessandro That's it for this month's episode of Worth Your Salt with FSR magazine. I'm your host, Laura D’Alessandro, thanking you for tuning in with us. We'll be back next month with another story from behind the scenes in one of America's top restaurants. In the meantime, you can get more from us at foodnewsfeed.com or find us on Instagram at @FSRmagazine. Cheers!