The name Ariel Lacayo has become synonymous with impeccable service, hospitality, and flawless execution in restaurants throughout New York City, the United States, and around the world. Since getting his start as a busboy at Nikolai’s Roof in Atlanta, Georgia, Lacayo has developed into one of the top restaurant consultants and managers in the industry.
The restaurant business has been in Lacayo’s blood since his days growing up in Nicaragua. His father owns Los Ranchos, the oldest steakhouse in Nicaragua (ca. 1959), and Lacayo’s siblings run additional outposts of the chain in Guatemala and El Salvador. As a child, he would go to management meetings with his father, as well as assist his mother in the kitchen. His exposure to all sides of the restaurant business from a very early age helped to inform his professional entry into the industry at the age of 19.
He spent four years at Nikolai’s Roof, which at the time was the only four-star restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. From his start as a busboy he moved up the ranks to management, eventually joining the staff at famed New York City Italian restaurant Il Cantinori, and forming a strong professional relationship with chef and restaurateur Pino Luongo. For over 10 years, Lacayo worked with Luongo at all of his restaurants, at one point splitting his time between Le Madri and Cocco Pazzo in New York City and Sappore di Mare in the Hamptons. In 1991, New York Magazine named Lacayo the Best Maître D’ in New York City for his exceptional work in those three restaurants.
Following his successful collaboration with the Pino Luongo Restaurant Group, Lacayo co-founded Patria, where he served as Manager and Maître D’. Patria’s renown went beyond being the first upscale Latino restaurant in New York City and earning a coveted three-star review from the New York Times. It broke ground, due in part to the talent and work ethic Lacayo cultivated at the restaurant. He brought together a powerhouse group of up-and-coming Latino chefs that included Douglas Rodriguez, Alex Garcia, and Aaron Sanchez. Outside of the kitchen, Lacayo created a school of service, teaching his staff everything from how to walk to how to serve with aplomb. Today, the service staff that were trained under Lacayo are either managers in top New York City restaurants or restaurant owners themselves — a fact that brings him much pride.
Expanding his purview, Lacayo opened restaurants in Latin America, serving as Partner, General Manager, and bringing a new level of service to each environment. His consultancy in the United States included first-class clients like the Russian Tea Room and Il Mulino, for whom he served as General Manager at the restaurant’s Aspen, Colorado location. From traveling the wine regions of France, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Greece, Hungry, and Spain on state invitations, to the time he spent in Paris honing his skills in some of the city’s top restaurants, the depth and breadth of his knowledge is extraordinary. Through A.L. Restaurant Consulting, he shares his passion with the world.
“Successful restaurants know it’s all about how you take care of your customer.”— Ariel Lacayo