JOHN
KASTANIS

"My dream was always to open my own place and sometimes that dream is hard. Given my unique background and my experience, i feel i can help someone grow their dream like i'm doing. We all need support and I have a passion and knowledge to help."

 

Founder | Casita of BK

 

expert in restaurant operations & coffee shop operations



instagram // @casitaofbk

My background in finance may not initially seem to be organically connected to my work in the hospitality industry, and yet my experience with the two have naturally built off each other over the years – something I couldn’t have expected, and yet am sincerely grateful for.

My career began working within banks, a far cry from my current endeavor, but which proved to be experiences that have done nothing but prepare me for the businesses I now hold great passion for. From training team members, even receiving a RARE (recognizing and Rewarding Excellence) award in June of 2009 for my customer service, to managing and being responsible as a Margin Analyst-Collateral Management and Valuations Associate, I learned essential skills that would assist me later in the hospitality industry.  

The confidence and skillset that my finance background provided me came to great use when I started working as a Maître D for Dyker Beach Golf Course Catering. Not only were my customer service skills solidified by managing catering staff for long periods to serve over 450 individuals, but I had to seamlessly streamline communications with managers too, making sure that everyone at every point of the business was happy and left in the loop. Over the years, I progressed through the hospitality industry by working as a general manager both in Jersey City and New York, the latter of which I worked at Gramercy Kitchen. Consistently creating imaginative and exciting menu items became less of a job to tick off the list and something that I truly came to enjoy and look forward to, as did creating relationships and contacts with vendors for fresh ingredients. My time working alongside Michelin starred chef Jack Logue at Tribeca’s Kitchen was also a phenomenal experience, and I came to truly value and appreciate the expertise of those I worked alongside.

I became wholly thankful for my finance industry background and experience when working as a general manager at PJ Clarkes. It was here that I oversaw and effectively managed yearly sales of $15M, finding myself dealing with a new level of profits that existed truly as a learning curve. The same could also be said for my time working alongside Chef Ethan Stowell on the grand opening of Wolf which was part of the 5 unique concepts and Nordstrom NYC. Managing Front of House employees for each concept was a new challenge that I welcomed with opened arms, and truly inspired me when it came to the creation of my own business endeavor – the opening of my first solo project, a Latin and Greek coffee shop called Casita of Brooklyn in Park Slope. All of my experiences have led me to greatly understand what does and doesn’t work not only when it comes to the hospitality industry, but also in the belly of the business too, when it comes to the training, managing and overseeing of the employees and the finances that ultimately keep a business afloat.

 

I have risen to every challenge that both industries have led me too, each one emboldening my own ideas and concepts for the future to help me provide a high-quality service, products and experience for each and every one of my employees and customers.

I understand how difficult it is to keep businesses successful and afloat in even the best of times, let alone during the unforeseen difficulty of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hold great esteem for all business owners and managers for supporting their employees and customers throughout such a difficult time and look forward to providing whatever assistance I can, bringing my unique perspective and experience to attempt to help others when it comes to keeping their businesses flourishing and healthy. I have no doubt in my mind that I would not have experienced such success in the finance and hospitality industries if I had not also been blessed by wonderful training and contacts, myself learning from the best that my employers and managers had to offer. I believe in giving back and look forward to helping as much as I can to afford someone the same opportunity when it comes to their own business.