Bartender Profile: Family affair

20 December, 2018

Eve Vasileiadou was practically raised behind a bar – now she runs her own show. Shay Waterworth meets the vibrant manager of Churchill Bar

ANY BARS AROUND THE WORLD try to create a ‘family atmosphere’ among their staff, and Eve Vasileiadou’s infectious smile and honest enthusiasm radiate a motherly persona which permeates her beloved Churchill Bar in London’s Hyatt Regency hotel.

Vasileiadou was nominated for Best Bar Manager at the recent Class Bar Awards, and two days prior to interview she got engaged. Her Greek heritage now demands a grand celebration.

“I’m only having 250 people at the wedding, maximum,” she says. “In Greece everyone is your family. Even if they are just friends you treat them like they are blood. That’s what I try to reflect at Churchill.”

Although Vasileiadou was raised in Greece, she began life in Australia. In 1987 her father returned to Greece to open a bar, so she was destined to work behind one eventually.

“Since I was one year old I’ve been raised behind a bar,” she says. “Then, when I was 14, I started working in coffee shops and bars to raise money to buy a motorbike. I was super-cool when I was at school and when I started working behind a bar I felt like a queen.”

Vasileiadou was introduced to her first cocktail, a Mojito, at the age of 16, under the slightly more relaxed drinking laws of the Mediterranean.

“When people found out I was a bartender in Greece they were usually thinking of serious bartending, but I used to like working in big nightclubs. I would just enjoy working anywhere fun, especially beach bars because we’d finish at 6am and take some beers to the beach.”

Vasileiadou studied Management Economics in Tourism Business at university with the intention of working in top-end hospitality, but her vision didn’t match reality.

“I got a job at the best hotel in Greece and it was the most challenging years of my life. I had to wear a uniform I wasn’t comfortable in and even though I was 22 I would have to act like I was 72.

“I would never regret working there because it was a beautiful old hotel, but times are moving on and I wouldn’t go back.”

She moved to London aged 24 and worked at the Corinthia Hotel as a cocktail waitress, learning the skills of top bartending.

Her next big move was to be part of the team that opened Churchill Bar five years ago. She joined as head bartender and started entering competitions to get her name out. “As a women in the industry and with a big mouth, I made a big impact in every competition I entered.”

After three years the bar was refurbished and reopened in January 2017.

“It was one of the most emotional moments of my life. We invited regular customers for a drink and it was just amazing. I can be emotional, melting like a marshmallow on a fire.”

The bar’s cigar terrace recently changed theme from nautical to Scottish Highlands and every detail was chosen by the bar team. In fact, the team is so involved in the décor that Vasileiadou and one of the bartenders built and upholstered a table for the terrace.

The past five years have been career-defining for Vasileiadou. She has created her own family in the bar and it wouldn’t be surprising if some flew to Greece to add to the 250 already waiting to celebrate.

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