Meet Constantin Alexander, the beverage king of Las Vegas who manages one of the largest volume beverage programs in the world. His journey through the hospitality industry is phenomenal. Starting at his roots with a family owned restaurant-turned-nightclub and making his way through the finest restaurants, Constantin is a true inspiration.
After starting his career at Clyde’s Restaurant Group, Constantin moved to Morton’s Restaurant Group where he became the youngest corporate trainer in company history. He helped manage his family’s gourmet food stores and restaurants before working with renowned James Beard award-winning chef Bob Kinkead. At the age of 23, he opened his very own Russian restaurant in Washington, DC., a block away from the white house. Unfortunately, the day after his restaurant opened, the horrific attacks that occurred on September 11th, caused the Secret Service to clear everyone out that was located within the quarantine zone.
To keep the staff on retainer despite having lost countless dollars in business due to the quarantine, Constantin and his business partner offered to pay staff rent. Although they were able to finally pay employees a salary a few months later, the restaurant continued to struggle. Due to its proximity to the World Bank, every time there was a protest, it had to be shut down.
With the last bit of cash from the register tills, Constantin took desperate measures by driving to Atlantic City to hit the poker tables, in hopes to win the restaurant’s rent and pay salaries. With luck on his side, Constantin was able to win what he needed to keep his business afloat and his staff taken care of, but this wasn’t sustainable.
The Gamble & the Payoff
In 2006, Constantin decided to leave the East Coast and try out his luck in Las Vegas as a professional poker player. All was good until he lost a significant amount of money during the 2006 World Series. At that time, he decided it was time to go all in poker style into the restaurant industry.
He polished his management skills by working for Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the Bellagio, Charlie Palmer at The Four Seasons, and he took the General Manager role at Morels French Steakhouse at the Palazzo. In 2011, he became the Assistant General Manager at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas where he helped increase sales to $32 million per year.
Constantin joined Hakkasan Group in 2014, which is one of the largest beverage programs in the US. Currently, he is the Director of Beverage, a position he cultivated on his own, where he oversees the world class wine and spirits program for the North American outlets.
Bringing on Tech
In the late 2000s, the hospitality industry’s technology changed and more robust systems were in use. However, as an old school lover, Constantin preferred doing inventory on pen and paper. Through much trial and error, he believed that pen, paper and walkie talkies were simply the most efficient way to get things done. Even if it required scanning and uploading inventory paperwork from 15 different staff members.
Most software programs they tested were either too complicated or took out too much of the human element. For example, most programs had too many automations for kitchen, which often backfired.
“I used to work at a restaurant with access to $100k worth of software and found that when you try to take too much of the people management out of the restaurant business, you lose the element of hospitality. It all just becomes a robotic system of shuffling people in and out.”
Constantin’s opinion of hospitality software programs changed when he started to use Bevager. He says, “When it comes to inventory control, Bevager really works. It’s very user-friendly, intuitive, and the reporting is super simple. It’s much easier to use than any other tool I’ve tried. We often joke when training new staff that it’s as easy to use as Amazon and if they can’t figure it out, we may need to re-evaluate their role. Additionally, I love that it’s a mobile platform and that they are always trying to improve their product. They listen to feedback. This is a company that cares!”
Looking Towards the Future
What’s up next for the Beverage King of Las Vegas? Constantin says, “We’re working on adding a couple more Vegas venues and expanding Hakkasan into Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Getting everything set up and ready for the expansion is our number one goal right now and Bevager is really helping us get on our way.”
Best happy hour spot off the strip: Cleaver Butchered Meats, they have ½ off food.
Best wine spot: Lamaii, it’s a Thai place.
Best dinner: Other Mama, for seafood.
Marvel or DC? Marvel. I’ve seen every single Marvel movie and many of them multiple times – My Mom saw The Avengers 13 times in the theater, I saw it 7 times with her.
Favorite Hero? Thor – he’s a cool, dynamic character.