This month we’ve got our eye on Francisco Ricafort, the PR and Marketing Manager at Buzz Concepts! Francis manages some of our favourite bars, clubs and restaurants around town, including Lily & Bloom, Tiger Curry and Fly. We chat to Francis about what it’s like to manage so many different venues, how he stays organised, his favourite Hong Kong hangouts and his best date ever…
How did you get started in the F&B industry?
Armani really helped me get my foot in the door in the F&B scene but it’s a bit of an awkward story. My flat mate was Armani Bar‘s PR when it first opened so I used to tag along with him and hang out there. After helping out with a couple of events, the Directors offered me a job as the PR Manager. I figured it would be awesome to work together with my flat mate and good friend at the time. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and I later found out my friend got fired and they offered me his job!
Do you have a daily routine? What do you do on a day-to-day basis in your job?
Mondays to Wednesdays, I try to live a normal life. I walk the dog when I get up, then go to the gym at 8/9am. I’m in the office by 11am and finish around 7pm (standard hours for my team at Buzz). I’m home by 8pm to walk the dog again. Sometimes my girl makes me dinner, otherwise we’ll eat somewhere near by.
Wednesdays to Saturdays I manage the nights at our venues. I usually get home on average around 4am on weeknights then head to the office around 1pm till about 6pm. Then it’s gym, dinner and walking the dog. I squeeze whatever I can in before going out but I don’t have time for much in the evening.
What has been your most memorable moment in your job?
Ahh there’s so many. Probably taking care of and hanging out with some of the best DJs in the world. Steve Aoki, Diplo, Mos Def…
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your role?
Staying grounded and not getting caught up in the superficial BS of it all. And taking care of myself by keeping healthy.
You manage a number of different restaurants and bars – how do you stay organised and on top of them all?
I’m the one who tends to go out more. But we do have a strong team in the office and at our venues that work together closely. I would never be able to run anything and stay organised if it weren’t for the team we have.
What is your favourite dish/drink at the restaurants/bars that you work with?
Fried chicken and waffle or miso cod at Bloom.
Chester Cup cocktail at Lily.
Pork and scrambled egg rice at Tiger Curry (check out Sassy’s review of Tiger Curry here).
Is it tough to stay healthy and fit when you work in the food biz and where do you go to workout?
If you care enough about yourself and your health, it’s not that tough. You quickly adjust to the amount of food and alcohol you take in; keeping it balanced by eating healthy during the day/week and keeping fit through working out and sports. I play basketball often and try to make it to Impakt for some muay thai sessions as much as I can.
What’s your ideal weekend in Hong Kong?
An ideal weekend for me would be brunch with friends, chilling on someone’s boat or a slightly secluded beach on an outlying island of HK. I’m a pretty chill person by nature.
Give us your itinerary for the perfect night out in Hong Kong?
It’s pretty standard. Meeting up with your favourite people for dinner, bar hopping, then ending up at a club that plays our favourite music.
What are your favourite local hangout spots?
Yardbird, Racks, dragon-i, Tazmania Ballroom, Lily & Bloom, Fly, Volar.
What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
I like chilling at home, getting in some down time with my dog or girlfriend. I try not to socialise so much in my spare time as I do that for work. Family day Sundays are the best for me. We chill in my neighbourhood in Quarry Bay.
What are your favourite local boutiques and stores in Hong Kong?
Lately, a new urban street wear shop just opened up in Chai Wan called Memory Lane, brought to you by the guys behind Made in Paradise board shorts. WARNING: This is a hipster hang out. But they have cool stuff. They’ve got a sick rooftop and throw parties for friends to shop and hang out.
Where in Hong Kong do you go for grooming?
For hair styling, I wouldn’t trust anyone else but my stylist at Hair House and Tattoo by Adam Chan. Adam is a rock star by night and hair stylist by day. He’s in a pretty dope local rock band.
For suits, I go to my good friend Raj at RS Fashion.
Tell us about your first crush and first kiss?
First kiss… I was 12 yrs old and was held down by some kids, as instructed by the full-sized neighbourhood bully. Her name was Sunshine! She put on lipstick and landed a wet one on my lips. It was traumatising. I can’t remember my first crush, lame I know.
Your biggest dating disaster?
Haven’t had any. They’ve always been well-planned since my first memorable one.
What do you think makes a girl Sassy?
I’m not sure but I like the girl next door type, down to earth with class.
What’s the best date you’ve ever been on?
In Manila, when I was about 18 or 19 I finally had the guts to take a girl on a date myself. Before then I would make my older sister come with me as I was really shy and got nervous around girls. So story goes, I mustered up the confidence to ask this girl to dinner and suggested we check out a new lounge bar which was strictly members-only. I didn’t know if I could get us in but took the chance anyway. We rock up to the back of the line and to my surprise I hear someone from the front scream “Mr. Ricafort! He’s a VIP let him through!”. It turned out the bouncer knew me from another club, when I would follow my younger sister around. The staff hooked me up with complimentary cocktails and suggested I take the VIP room. The rest is history but I still remember this as my best date as everything seemed to go my way that night.
What are your top tips for budding entrepreneurs?
If we’re talking about the F&B industry, a lot goes into opening a restaurant, bar or club. It’s very important to study and know your target market to create a point of difference that will really attract their attention. Treat your staff fairly to keep good staff. These days, it’s tough to find or build a good team.
What are you future plans and where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
Hong Kong is home to me. Buzz is home to me. If not helping Buzz grow even more, then most likely managing my own venue(s).
All images in this article were taken by the talented photographer Darren LeBeuf – get in touch with him at email@example.com.