We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Passakos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was born in Buffalo, NY to Greek immigrant parents. We moved to South Florida when I was 2 years old and I have been here ever since.
My parents have owned diners (I know, Greeks owning a diner, such a cliche!) and I grew up working in them, which is where I learned about hospitality and how to deal with different personalities, both when it comes to guests and fellow co-workers.
My parents started me off as a busboy, then as a dishwasher, then a waiter, then the cashier and after I had finally mastered every other position in the restaurant they trained me to be a manager.
Their belief was how can you properly train someone to do a job if you haven’t done it yourself, and at the same time if something happened and an employee had to leave mid-shift I needed to be capable of jumping in and doing the job that needed to be done.
This has carried over and has been part of the model for every business that I have been a part of ever since.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
In 2017 my friends Ritchie Rockstar, Riste Sekuloski and I opened Booze Garden in Fort Lauderdale. Since then we have had 5 amazing years there and have expanded and opened a few places in Wynwood which include Centro, Catch and a second Booze Garden location.
I also recently opened Bandoleros Taqueria y Mas in Fort Lauderdale with Riste and some of our other friends, which (and I know I’m biased) but I honestly believe has some of the best tacos I’ve ever had.
The Holy Passakos Blonde Ale would likely have never happened if it wasn’t for my friend Thuan, who at the time owned a sushi restaurant. He was the first person to put my name on a menu with the Passakos Roll, which went on to be his best seller.
I currently have menu items on a bunch of other local restaurants which includes Wilton Wings, Peter Pan Diner, Hollywood Brewing, Poke Lolo, The Greek Food Truck and a few other places.
Like the great late Billy Mays, I won’t endorse something unless it’s something that I would order when I’m there. For example it took me trying over 20 different combinations of toppings at Wilton Wings before we came up the Passakos Style (hot, grilled, extra wet, with lemon-pepper and powdered garlic).
It’s a similar story with all of the other places.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If someone visited me in Fort Lauderdale I would recommend that they stay at the beach. The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is my go-to when I have relatives and friends visiting. They have a great hotel with awesome amenities and staff.
Since we’d already be on the beach we would start off with drinks at Elbo Room, Blondies, Rok Bar and maybe a small bite to eat at Spazio so we’re not drinking on an empty stomach.
Then we would head down to Las Olas for more drinks at Louie Bossi and from there we would make our way to Piazza Italia and American Social.
Then we would head downtown to Bandoleros for dinner and then head to Booze Garden to finish the night off! That would be their first night. Day 2 would be a totally different itinerary that would involve Fat Village and The Hub or Daer and The Rooftop bars at the Hard Rock.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There were a lot of people that were very influential in helping shape who I am, and where I am today.
First and foremost are my parents that taught me all about hard work and the benefits of being your own boss.
Since then, in my life and career, there have been dozens of people who were critical in my success.
My career in the club scene started when one of my oldest friends, Tommy Ervay and I started a website that focused on nightlife in Broward.
After that my good friend and former owner of Voodoo Lounge, Wendy Tascione, gave me my first start in this industry and the owners at Passion Nightclub gave me my first official position.
Other people that were very influential were Ehab Attallah who I worked for at Off the Hookah and who I later made the Holy Passakos Blonde Ale with at Holy Mackeral Small Batch Beers.
My friend John Todora, who I learned a lot from while working together at Bull Market.
And of course my best friend and business partner Jonny Adler, who I currently throw the Rubber Duckie and Red Monkey Parties with.
I apologize to the other people that I didn’t mention, but please know that I appreciate and love every one of you that has helped me get to where I’m at today.