Opening a new watering hole can be equal parts daunting and rewarding.
Just ask the team at New York City’s Gia. Located in Manhattan’s chic NoHo neighborhood, the Italian-inspired restaurant and bar flung open its doors this past summer and is building steady buzz thanks to its colorful interiors, delectable wood-fired pizzas, inventive cocktails, and extensive wine list. If you’re thinking about launching a new establishment of your own, here are a few tips inspired by how Gia got off the ground.
Feel out the perfect location
“It is so simple,” says Gia owner Samantha Dinnerman. “Take a walk in your neighborhood. Find out what people want, make it, and give it to them. Do it in one of the most exciting locations in the city, hire great people, add a good amount of hospitality and success will follow.”
Hire top talent
Gia’s wine program is overseen by Attila Geczi, who also doubles as the restaurant’s general manager. “He not only has 30 years of restaurant experience in four countries on two continents, but he himself is an accomplished wine maker in his native Hungary,” says Dinnerman. “He has put an approachable wine list together that celebrates different grape varieties manifested in a variety of territories.”
Have a focal point
Aside from the southern-Italy inspired design scheme with rich yellows, a lemon motif and colorful plates, the rear of the restaurant is outfitted with a temperature-controlled wine cellar. “It’s a conversation started amongst our beloved clients,” says Gecz. Adds Dinnerman: “There’s also a hidden list of wines that’s not advertised. You’d better have your black Amex handy for that one, though.”
Be open to fresh ideas
“One of the cocktails was suggested by one of our wine salesmen,” says Dinnerman referring to Gia’s Suntory Sunrise. “We prepare with Suntory Toki, raspberries, aquafaba, lime and a dehydrated blood orange wheel as garnish.”
When it comes to putting together their cocktail program, Gia’s team knew they wanted to think outside the box. “We are extremely proud of the artisan cocktails that we feature on our list,” Dinnerman says. “Right from the very beginning we put the emphasis on creativity over crowd pleasing. That gamble seems to be paying off.”
When it came to Gia’s birth, Geczi notes that “from inception to reality it took us about a year.” It’s a long haul that reminded Dinnerman of a quote from the writer Nora Ephron. “She once said, ‘Owning a restaurant is the kind of universal fantasy everyone ought to grow out of, sooner rather than later, or else you will be stuck with the restaurant.’ We proudly state that we did not heed her advice, and we cannot be happier.”