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Changing the world, one cocktail at a time

Pablo Moore Rubio spent the first few years of his adult life trying to find his purpose before circumstances led him to the hospitality industry and he hasn’t “looked back” since.

Pablo was named as the Supervisor Food and Beverage in Sydney’s Four Seasons Grain Bar a month ago, but his journey to hospitality started after a brief career in public relations. After attending high school on the Central Coast NSW, he turned his ambitions to changing the world, completing a degree in PR at a university in Chile.

In his young adult life he worked for a PR company specialising on environmental projects. However, this was short lived with too many dead ends and when he “didn’t see much change happening” he packed his bags and moved back to Australia at 21 years-old.

While back home, Pablo remained unsure of his next career direction and joined the hospitality industry to pass the time, where he worked his way up from runner, waiter and bartender at Mejico on Pitt St for about three years. As you know the ending, it only gets better from there.

He told Bars and Clubs: “I returned home looking for answers, what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I worked in hospitality initially just to pay the bills while I enjoyed the adventure and travelling around, but I started to fall in love with hospitality.

“It suits my outgoing personality and I made the decision to commit to it. I never looked back. In hospitality, you get to see your impact immediately – you meet people from all over the world and can have a positive influence on their lives through fun, knowledge sharing, and unexpected experiences.

“Grain Bar and Four Seasons have given me amazing mentors like my supervisor, Adam Lau, to support my career development with creativity, world class training and a positive working environment.”

Since joining Grain Bar in April 2019, Pablo has grown as a mixologist and recently as a supervisor, but he wasn’t able to escape the challenges of 2020. Missing friends and family was only justified as he was able to bear witness to the hospitality industry adapt and overcome the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The uncertainty of the past year has been a challenge, and being separated from mates who have returned to their home countries as well as my loved ones who I haven’t seen for three years,” he said.

“But it’s also been inspiring to see how the industry has adapted and how it’s made everyone feel more connected due to shared hardship. I am so thankful to be someone who loves and enjoys their job every day, and feel extremely grateful for the career development from Four Seasons.

“I’m excited to be leading a team of such talented and passionate people, who are the key to what makes Grain Bar so special.”

Grain Bar reopened its doors late last year with limited opening hours and capacity. Pablo said the most important aspect of the process was completing updated training to ensure the safety of staff and customers.

He explained: “Grain Bar reopened last August and at the start it was just four of us working and running the whole place, with limited opening hours and capacity.

“We underwent intensive training on our new Lead With Care protocols, the global Four Seasons health and safety procedures, which was extremely important to ensure the safety of both staff and guests, while maintaining a fun, creative and intimate atmosphere.”

Despite all the hardship the pandemic placed on the on-premise industry, Pablo said for him and the Grain Bar team it was the perfect time to identify what their keys to recovery would be.

“2020 provided us with an opportunity to step back and see the bigger picture, pay more attention to the details, flow of service, story behind products, the identity of Grain Bar. I’ve come to realise that creating experiences that emphasise human connection, is the key to the future of hospitality.” He said.

“It’s easy to order a drink through an electronic menu, but getting a personalised recommendation and trying a cocktail you never would have chosen yourself, that’s incomparable.

“It’s really been a crucial year in my life, developing a new appreciation for every moment, consciousness of my decisions and inspiration for a refreshing new beginning.

“We see the industry adapting with creative initiatives like distilleries making their own hand sanitizers, bars elaborating bottle cocktails, and our own Grain Bar offering ‘cocktails in bed’ to Four Seasons Hotel guests via our new in-room cocktail trolley.”

He added: “The ‘reborn’ crowd of 2021 has shown excitement for creativity, human connection and a craving for intimate experiences. Our guests are more outgoing, they ask our names and want to get to know us, and often invite us out with them after work. They become more like friends, not just regulars, having deeper conversations beyond cheeky jokes and banter.

“They love the creativity and knowledge of Grain’s bartenders. We do not just take drink orders, we share our knowledge to help guests choose the best cocktail for them, or even make something off the menu. And this really adds to the whole experience and appreciation of going out for drinks.”

Since starting in hospitality Pablo has also grown to see the differing customer interpretations towards a hotel bar versus an independent bar. He said the team at Grain Bar however, are ready to progress past this idea, and present itself as an outstanding cocktail bar.

“Grain is a street front bar, run as a standalone venue with a very defined personality. A lot of our peers from other bars pay their respects to the quality of our cocktails. But in Sydney, a lot of people assume hotel bars have no personality.

“We believe that for us to develop, the surrounding community must develop with us, and our mission is to raise the visibility of hotel bars in the cocktail community. Hotel bars are where the most famous bartenders came from, and they have had a huge influence on cocktail culture globally.

“Our new in-house barrel-aged cocktails program is super exciting, there hasn’t been too much done on this worldwide. It provides a platform for our bartenders to explore the benefits and influence of barrel aging with different ingredients at a scale rarely seen in Sydney, Australia and Internationally.”

Pablo has developed his skills quickly having only started his mixology journey at 21 years-old. With his understanding for the trade he has honed in on the importance of experimenting with fresh ingredients.

He said: “We are storytellers and love to share our knowledge with guests and the history behind cocktail-making and the ingredients we use.

“Inspired by our name, every cocktail has a grain component. We use grains in alternative ways to explore their full potential in flavour, aroma, culinary benefits, texture, history, etc and spend a lot of time experimenting on different combinations.”

While Pablo is still relatively new to the industry he says trusting your colleagues is one of the most important aspects of his role he could impart to another in his position.

“It’s still early in my career in management so I could use more advice than what I can give, but with that said, I’ve experienced the reward that comes from putting confidence in my staff.

“Sometimes it’s hard to put trust in the team, you want to do it yourself, but it’s always better when you do trust them. They come up with solutions I hadn’t seen before, and their creativity flows.

“This brings new ideas and opportunities so I’m a big believer in selective hiring, and then trusting your people,” he said.

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