We bet the hotelier of values

Manuel and Daniel Álvarez, father and son, at Café Bali MIGUEL VILLAR

Manuel and Daniel Álvarez, father and son, share the job of waitresses and are both in charge of Café Bali.

21 November 2022 . Updated at 05:00.

Manuel Ivarez (A Teixeira, 1988) hotelier from the previous ones, with a bow tie and well-polished shoes. After dedicating 45 years to business, it’s hard for him to quit despite having retired for four years, but every day he still goes to what he sees as his bar. Responsible for where he has devoted most of his career, the balinese coffee pot, Alfonso Rodrguez Castelao is left with his son Daniel, who took the reins in 2018.. Manuel has coffee there every day, even when they are closed. Inside with orders etc. I know she’s working, so I usually come and see if she needs anything, she admits. I’m one of those people who don’t usually applaud a job well done, I value it by returning sites and admits I’m not leaving here.

Manuel started his hotel business when he was just 18 years old. He was apprenticing at La Rotonda, in the station area. “Because I came from town and everything was new to me, I never had a job in the industry and I wasn’t actually a customer,” he recalls. He fit in well, and this was the first of a dozen venues to mark the remainder of his professional career. Manuel has worked at the Buenos Aires restaurant and Hotel Parque. “I shouldn’t know how to do anything else because they sent me to the kitchen even when I was in the military,” he says. On his return from the military and after several years of trying to find a life in Switzerland, he stopped by Hostal Riomar at Habana 83. Bavaria, Lázaros, Copetn al paso, Siglo XX, the Plat and most recently the Bali coffeehouse in 1997. I remember very well when they were running the disco they told me it was for rent. I bought it because I liked the area and the essence of the place. Even the usual customers had tried to take care of each other so as not to leave the bar. In the early days, they asked me for a vermé and I had to go to the supermarket and get the bottle because there was nothing on the shelves, but things changed and gradually I filled it with people, says Manuel. My brothers and I grew up here. That’s what I carry in my blood, and I actually have all my childhood experiences here, Daniel explains. He stopped reading at 16, says it’s not for him. “I sat down with my dad and told him I wanted to learn to be a waiter,” she recalls. He started working at Hotel Auriense where he studied for 8 years. “I went from the waitress to the counter, to the cook, to the head of the room, to the cleaning… to check everything,” she says. After this period, he saw that it was time to start his own business. His father was still head of Bali, had been there for over twenty years and was already 64 years old, so Daniel saw this clearly. I knew my dad was going to retire soon, and it broke my heart to imagine that I would open a place and someone else would take over our family bar the following year, so I talked to him about it, we took over from him, he says.

He told me to think, it was a lot of sacrifice but he wanted to fight and here I am, he adds. This Saturday Bali celebrated its 25th anniversary at the hands of the Álvarez family. I have to thank the customers who have kept us here all these years. Many of them are no longer here, but I want them all to know that they are friends to us, says Manuel. “My son barely made it to the bar when he got up to try and serve them,” he adds. “They’ve seen me grow and I thank them for continuing to trust us,” Daniel notes. The completely refurbished Bali version is more modern and up-to-date. I know that he loves what he does and is a caring and dedicated kid, so I always trusted him, Manuel admits. Yet this retired hotelier claims to disagree with his son on many issues. The ways of transforming have changed, and my father lives long in his time. Today, Dani is not just a uniform and aesthetic, which I maintain, but also requires a psychology to interact with and encourage the customer, explains Dani. What did you inherit from Manuel? Meticulousness, persistence, a job well done… in short: a commitment to value-added hospitality. Dani, I approach my clients with this reality every day, and everything else like aesthetics, sympathy or affection is a plus, Dani concludes.

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Written by Adem

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