Emerging Brands

‘Refinement’ and expansion slated for Bartaco after hiring of Union Square vet

Union Square Hospitality Group is known for its commitments to service, technology and the creation of scaleable concepts—precisely the reasons Bartaco hired away a USHG senior vice president this week to become its new president.

“What differentiates us is, we’re not overly focused on the best food or the best service. We’re focused on the entire experience,” says Jeff Carcara, CEO of Barteca Restaurant Group, which oversees both casual street food concept Bartaco and its more upscale sister concept, Barcelona Wine Bar.

It’s too early to tell what operational changes Sabato Sagaria will put in place when he officially assumes the president role from Bartaco co-founder Scott Lawton at the new year, Carcara says. Sagaria will be spending the next several months touring the 15 Bartaco units, getting a better understanding of the brand and the staff.

Lawton, meanwhile, will remain on as an advisor at least through the first half of next year, working on projects concerning purchasing and IT.

Sagaria, a master sommelier, brings with him a background in upscale service. “Bartaco’s always going to be a casual concept,” Carcara says. “But there’s always room for refinement.”

Employees across the Barteca company will take the Court of Master Sommeliers Level 1 course to boost their wine knowledge, he says.

Barteca recently rolled out a new app and has added new beverage inventory and cost control software, Carcara says. “We’re overhauling everything in our company with technology,” he says. “[Sagaria] may be a step or two ahead in some areas.”

As for Barteca’s future, expect fairly rapid growth under Sagaria, with multiple leases for new units signed for 2018 and 2019, Carcara says.

Would the casual-but-full-service concept consider a fast-casual spinoff?

“Right now, we’re fully committed to full service,” Carcara says. “We’ve talked about the future of Bartaco; could it be a fast casual? It probably could. But that’s not the arena we’re playing in right now … You never say never, but it doesn’t fit with us right now.”

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