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April 18, 2024

S1E2 - Thick Skin and Short Memory with Josh Wagner

Josh Wagner is a hospitality specialist has opened dozens of restaurants, bars, and hotels, and is currently the investor in a few bars.

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WISK white logo-> All episodes <-

April 18, 2024

S1E2 - Thick Skin and Short Memory with Josh Wagner

Josh Wagner is a hospitality specialist has opened dozens of restaurants, bars, and hotels, and is currently the investor in a few bars.

Apple Podcast player linkSpotify Podcast player linkGoogle Podcasts player link

Show notes

Episode Notes

Josh Wagner, a hospitality specialist with 20 years of experience, shares his journey from being a promoter to owning and consulting for bars and restaurants. He emphasizes the importance of creating unique experiences and the joy of bringing people together. Josh discusses the transition from being a promoter to getting involved in the operational and business side of hospitality. He highlights the need for clear expectations, building a strong team, and maintaining a work-life balance. Josh also shares his insights on the future of the hospitality industry, including the rise of luxury travel and the return of events and concerts.


  • Creating unique experiences and bringing people together are key aspects of hospitality.
  • Clear expectations and building a strong team are crucial for success in the industry.
  • Maintaining a work-life balance is important, and setting ground rules and parameters can help achieve this.
  • The future of hospitality will see an increase in luxury travel and a focus on providing high-quality experiences.
  • Events and concerts will make a comeback, and people's desire for social interaction and shared experiences will drive their attendance.


00:00 Introduction and Purpose of the Interview

08:14 Building a Strong Team and Maintaining Work-Life Balance

29:42 The Return of Events and Concerts in the Hospitality Industry

40:09 Last Day on Earth: Go-To Meal and Drink


Follow Josh Wagner on Instagram!

Learn more about Margot Natural Wine Bar!

Learn more about Sweet Liberty!

Learn More About Wagner Hospitality!


Angelo Esposito [00:00:06]:

Welcome to Wisking It All with your host, Angelo Esposito, co-founder of WISK.AI, a food and beverage intelligence platform. We're going to be interviewing hospitality professionals around the world to really understand how they do what they do, from chefs to owners, mixologists to bar managers, you name it. We want to provide you guys with a ton of value, anything hospitality related. We're here today with Josh Wagner, who's a hospitality specialist, has opened dozens of restaurants, bars, and hotels. Currently owner of a few bars and consulting for a few projects. Josh, thanks for being here.

Josh Wagner [00:00:52]:

Thanks for having me. Angelo.

Josh Wagner [00:00:53]:

It's good to see you.

Josh Wagner [00:00:54]:

Good to hear your voice.

Angelo Esposito [00:00:55]:

Yeah, it's good to see as well. It's always fun to chat with you. To this day, I haven't met someone who doesn't speak positively about you, so it's great to connect with you. I think everybody, everyone in the industry loves Josh and speaks highly about Josh. So I'm happy to have you on the show and share some of your 20 years of experience with our listeners.

Josh Wagner [00:01:12]:

You just made me feel warm and fuzzy to start this all off. Yeah, you're gonna put me in a good mood for this conversation, Angelo.

Angelo Esposito [00:01:18]:

Awesome. That's what I like to hear. So one of the first ways we like to start off is just to get a sense of how you got into hospitality in the first place. Just back in the day, what first got you into the hospitality scene?

Josh Wagner [00:01:31]:

But, wow. So I gotta take that back to high school. I grew up in New York City, and I always had this desire to bring people together in a fun setting and enjoy each other's company. So I found myself as a 1516 year old kid, getting together with friends and finding places in New York City.

Speaker C [00:01:51]:

That would allow a bunch of underage.

Josh Wagner [00:01:52]:

Kids to take over their venues.

Speaker C [00:01:54]:

And next thing I know, I was.

Josh Wagner [00:01:55]:

A promoter in New York City, late.

Speaker C [00:01:58]:

Teen nightlife scene in the mid, late nineties.

Josh Wagner [00:02:01]:

And yeah, I just had this true joy of creating unique experiences to bring.

Speaker C [00:02:07]:

Friends into a setting, to all create some fun memories together.

Josh Wagner [00:02:10]:

So I started in high school, which then led going into college.

Speaker C [00:02:14]:

I went to University of Wisconsin, go.

Josh Wagner [00:02:16]:

Badgers, and wound up forming a company there with three of my buddies. And next thing we knew, we were throwing concerts in the Midwest and New Year's parties in a couple different cities.

Speaker C [00:02:26]:

And spring break packages to Mexico and.

Josh Wagner [00:02:30]:

Bringing big hip hop acts and run DMC and funk master flex and just method man and Redman to Madison, Wisconsin, and really just started bringing a bunch.

Speaker C [00:02:40]:

Of people together and getting organized about it and starting to understand that went from phone calls and flyering in the streets to text messaging and, you know, that which led to emails and then which led to where we are today.

Josh Wagner [00:02:51]:

But really starting pounding the streets and throwing parties and trying to create stuff that we really enjoyed going to.

Speaker C [00:02:57]:

I was a kid of New York City, mid nineties hip hop and bringing those guys out to college, which was awesome and really getting this was, you.

Josh Wagner [00:03:04]:

Know, pre big music festivals every weekend.

Speaker C [00:03:07]:

And really trying to create really cool settings for our friends to go enjoy.

Josh Wagner [00:03:10]:

And more importantly, me and my friends.

Speaker C [00:03:12]:

And it paid off.

Josh Wagner [00:03:13]:

I studied abroad in London also. We did a bunch of stuff over there when I was in university and.

Speaker C [00:03:17]:

Just really took this equation of trying to get a network of people to support each other. And I fell into the nightlife promoter scene at late teens, early twenties year.

Josh Wagner [00:03:26]:

And I started off on the promoter.

Speaker C [00:03:27]:

Side of the whole business.

Angelo Esposito [00:03:28]:

Wow. And so you didn't have any family in a hospitality?

Josh Wagner [00:03:32]:

No, I never had uncle with the restaurant.

Speaker C [00:03:35]:

It was never that way. My father was in broadcasting in his earlier years and he was always a consummate gentleman of hosting a table. And I think I was really taken in by just the hospitality side of.

Josh Wagner [00:03:47]:

It all and having people feel good.

Speaker C [00:03:49]:

I really enjoyed from a very early age, looking around and seeing people enjoying and not knowing that I helped keep curate that moment.

Josh Wagner [00:03:55]:

And I think I probably learned that at a young age around the family dinner table, of having guests to the.

Speaker C [00:04:00]:

House and seeing them feel good and knowing what my mom and dad were doing behind it to make them happy.

Josh Wagner [00:04:05]:

I caught the bug at an early age.

Angelo Esposito [00:04:06]:

That's awesome. Looking back, there was a point where hospitality was a second job to a certain extent. Right? It's like you had a job and then you also worked in hospitality, and that wasn't a great thing. And I think that stigma is changing a lot, and a lot of people are now understanding that, no, you could build a full career and work up the latter in the hospitality scene. But from your perspective, when did you go from, okay, cool, I'm organizing these parties. This is pretty awesome, building experiences to like, okay, I want to do this full time. Like, this is my career now.

Josh Wagner [00:04:33]:

I think it was a combination of wanting to control the entire environment and understanding to cut a paycheck instead of just receiving one. When you're promoting a place, you don't have ownership, you maybe have it for one night, a one off. And there's certain things you can't control.

Speaker C [00:04:50]:

And I think for me, it was.

Josh Wagner [00:04:52]:

How can I influence all of this experience? I want to be the boss and.

Speaker C [00:04:57]:

Not just be someone running around.

Josh Wagner [00:04:58]:

And also, I didn't like the idea of just being the person that had.

Speaker C [00:05:02]:

To fill the venue. I wanted to be involved with the.

Josh Wagner [00:05:05]:

Guest experience from front to end, from.

Speaker C [00:05:08]:

The anticipatory service, the hello to the goodbye, and not just the in between.

Josh Wagner [00:05:12]:

So for me it was, how can I take this? Cause I really enjoyed it and I really didn't want it to just be a seven night a week party thing.

Speaker C [00:05:20]:

I wanted it to be, how can.

Josh Wagner [00:05:21]:

You understand how the business works? So after I finished up college, I moved down to Miami and I enrolled and got my masters in hotel hospitality management. I wanted to really know the business side of it all. I got into the school side of it. Honestly, anyone who will talk to you that's been in hospitality their whole life, getting a formal degree and it's not required. It's a business where horizontal does lead.

Speaker C [00:05:43]:

To vertical, where you cover your basis and naturally rise.

Josh Wagner [00:05:46]:

But for me, it was, where can I get more information? And I'm very happy I did it. It was another tool that I could use to put in tool shed. I'm very happy I did it. But I also did it simultaneously while working as an intern in a famous hotel and nightclub and was working five.

Speaker C [00:06:02]:

Six days a week while going to grad school three days a week. So I was getting an education on all fronts. If anyone is curious about going to get a further education, what's wrong with the degree?

Josh Wagner [00:06:12]:

So I'm all for that. If you can get it, that's wonderful. And also, you can learn any way.

Speaker C [00:06:16]:

Shape or form different ways for different people. But I chose both.

Angelo Esposito [00:06:20]:

It's funny, you were talking about the customer experience, and we had a guest on the first episode of Wisking It All. His name's Kevin Demers from Montreal. And it's funny, he gave a story about how you can have a perfect night, or almost perfect night, let's say, at a restaurant, and at the end of it, you go to the parking lot and you have a ticket and all of a sudden your night is ruined. As we were discussing, we realized that it's crazy how many things have to go right for that total unique experience to happen. And it's from point a to point z. And so I'm just curious, from your perspective, right? Which with so much experience, when it comes to building those unique experiences, how do you look at that? And how do you try to manage those expectations, knowing that it's a big, big shoe to fill, so to speak.

Josh Wagner [00:07:00]:

For me, the first and the last experience are so important. It's how you set the tone. If you can have some anticipatory service.

Speaker C [00:07:07]:

If you can investigate the needs of your desk before they arrive through the door, if you can tick some boxes.

Josh Wagner [00:07:12]:

Before they even come in, when they do come in, if you are setting the tone in the comfort zone, that ticket doesn't matter at the end of.

Speaker C [00:07:18]:

The night because it's outside the parking.

Josh Wagner [00:07:20]:

Lot and they had a great experience. I think it's how you set the tone. If you sent me out that door and I didn't have a wonderful night and I forgot to pay my parking.

Speaker C [00:07:27]:

Ticket, I would have said, why didn't.

Josh Wagner [00:07:28]:

Someone tell me to park here and the meter's going to go out? But at the end of the night, I think if you set the tone.

Speaker C [00:07:33]:

If you identify the guest needs, you.

Josh Wagner [00:07:35]:

Can really transport them to a place of happiness. The things that suck don't suck anymore. The best nights you've ever had in your life. You don't remember the food or drink. You remember who it was with and what the setting was. Things taste better when you're happy. Things are easier to digest when you're having a good time.

Speaker C [00:07:51]:

Things that would normally piss you off are just going to be brushed and shrugged off. If you know everything else was great.

Josh Wagner [00:07:57]:

The tiny little thing that's messing it up, you're not making somebody happy enough.

Speaker C [00:08:00]:

That shouldn't frustrate them.

Josh Wagner [00:08:02]:

I think that you control what you can control. If you get obsessed about everything, you're never going to win.

Speaker C [00:08:08]:

And you have to understand, in this business, you can't make every guest happy.

Josh Wagner [00:08:11]:

So that's just, it is impossible.

Speaker C [00:08:14]:

Like, you seriously cannot make every person happy.

Josh Wagner [00:08:17]:

So as long as you're doing it with an integrity and you're doing it.

Speaker C [00:08:20]:

With the right intentions, and you're prepared.

Josh Wagner [00:08:22]:

To receive criticism and be able to listen and adjust, I think the majority of the time you'll be able to win.

Angelo Esposito [00:08:29]:

Very well said. One thing that always comes to mind, and I've had this discussion with some people, is how do you think technology plays a role in this? And when I say technology, I'm specifically thinking about something like a yelp or reviews where all of a sudden there's a lack of, let's say, control to a certain extent, where anyone can write anything. And really, how do you manage that customer experience, knowing that not everyone has the same weight to a certain extent. Right? Like, you don't know if somebody went to a restaurant and just had an appetizer and left, versus if someone came in and really had a full experience. There's so many unique cases. And so when there's something like a yelp, and I don't mean to pick on Yelp, but just a review system, I guess. In general, how do you manage that.

Josh Wagner [00:09:08]:

Controlling what you can control? I had a great old boss of.

Speaker C [00:09:11]:

Mine that would say, inspect what you.

Josh Wagner [00:09:13]:

Expect, and if you're going to be.

Speaker C [00:09:15]:

Influenced by something that is completely out of your control and completely out of your influence, don't let it drive you crazy. If you are going to be influencing something, then inspect it and see every way that you can make it work in your favor. Understand how it can show you your weaknesses, respect it and acknowledge it.

Josh Wagner [00:09:34]:

Technology, right now and for the rest of yours and mine lives, and anyone.

Speaker C [00:09:38]:

Who would ever listen to this is.

Josh Wagner [00:09:40]:

Going to have people judging it differently and using it for different ways and tools and validations. There are tools that people use I've never even heard of. Is it important to keep up with them and understand the influence of them and understand the impact it has on your business? 100%.

Speaker C [00:09:56]:

But if you try to keep up.

Josh Wagner [00:09:57]:

With all channels, you're going to take away from the productivity of creating a great guest experience to your own standard. So there is this thing, when I grew up, it was very much like.

Speaker C [00:10:06]:

The guest is always right and in.

Josh Wagner [00:10:08]:

Some respects that still stands, but in other ones it's thrown out the window.

Speaker C [00:10:11]:

Because when some people just feel as.

Josh Wagner [00:10:13]:

If they can throw a review up.

Speaker C [00:10:15]:

On a particular website, don't need to.

Josh Wagner [00:10:17]:

Name any just to get something from you or just to take advantage of the system. I'm going to be more concerned with the integrity of my product than I am about person shaming me for something that I don't agree with, I am going to stand up, I will justify it, I will listen to it, I.

Speaker C [00:10:31]:

Will give them feedback.

Josh Wagner [00:10:32]:

But also, technology can make you waste.

Speaker C [00:10:33]:

A tremendous amount of time, or it.

Josh Wagner [00:10:35]:

Could literally give you the most incredible tools ever imagined to get you to a better place. So how does technology influence you? I don't know. I think I would first start with how are you using it in your life? What are the things that you wish.

Speaker C [00:10:47]:

That you got rid of with it.

Josh Wagner [00:10:48]:

And the things that are important to you spend more time on.

Speaker C [00:10:51]:

I'm not going to waste my time trying to obsess over every single element. I'm going to focus on the ones I think are important.

Angelo Esposito [00:10:56]:

Really good outlook and one of the things I wanted to do was get our listeners into maybe the transition from promoter to starting to operate your first venue. I'd like to go through a few venues, but I love to hear about the first time you went from promoter getting more involved in an actual hotel, restaurant or bar, on the operational side, on the business side, on the construction side. And I'd love to hear from your point of view, really just any learnings, lessons, things you didn't anticipate. So, yeah, our listeners can really just get an idea of what to expect.

Josh Wagner [00:11:27]:

My first official job in the hospitality world was working at the Shore Club.

Speaker C [00:11:31]:

Hotel Miami beach, at that point being run by Ian Schrager, Studio 54, the.

Josh Wagner [00:11:37]:

Big daddy of all things boutique hotel related, and my boss and my mentor.

Speaker C [00:11:43]:

My first real boss, his name was Ben Pundle, and Ben was a managing partner there and was Ian's right hand on the property. So I was going right into the heyday of the hotness of the hotel.

Josh Wagner [00:11:56]:

Bar, where food and beverage drove the hotel.

Speaker C [00:11:59]:

It wasn't about the guest experience in the hotel room. It was about the prime time access to.

Josh Wagner [00:12:05]:

We had a bar called Sky Bar.

Speaker C [00:12:07]:

Where we had a huge outdoor pool.

Josh Wagner [00:12:08]:

Area and a garden and a place called the Red Room with no boo on property. And I'll go on property. So I got into the business begging for an internship, and my mentality was, my nickname was eager Beaver to Ben, because I literally just wanted to learn it all.

Speaker C [00:12:24]:

And I was 22, and I thought I could figure things out. So I asked for as much responsibility, responsibility as possible.

Josh Wagner [00:12:30]:

And that transition is. It's a smack in your face, right? There's so many different layers. Because I was also, you know, I wasn't a freestanding venue.

Speaker C [00:12:39]:

We were in a hotel, so we had to treat every guest as a hotel guest or a potential one. It wasn't having the liberties of being able to have the standards of a nightclub and just refuse people, because whatever your reason may be, so being able.

Josh Wagner [00:12:54]:

To tread the line between understanding hotel guest experience a random stranger and understanding that there are many repercussions of how.

Speaker C [00:13:04]:

You treat people, that was.

Josh Wagner [00:13:05]:

That was a quick lesson. And then also understanding the financial side of it all. Cost of goods and understanding there are $80 towels walking every day by the.

Speaker C [00:13:16]:

Pool because somebody's leaving their section, and.

Josh Wagner [00:13:18]:

These beautiful orange towels are gone. And I can't believe we just lost four grand in towels this month.

Speaker C [00:13:23]:

That's a problem, right?

Josh Wagner [00:13:25]:

And then saying, oh, my God, this promoter that we're hiring, that I used.

Speaker C [00:13:28]:

To be in the shoes of.

Josh Wagner [00:13:30]:

Just got eight comp bottles and didn't book anyone buying a table, but is taking credit for a full room in a full nightclub. That was a great venue.

Speaker C [00:13:38]:

I think it was just the honest black and white of it all, that it wasn't just a party, it wasn't just a fun time. You had to be responsible. You had employees that were looking at you to make decisions and handle problems.

Josh Wagner [00:13:50]:

When I was a promoter, nothing really mattered.

Speaker C [00:13:52]:

Fill the place up, have a good.

Josh Wagner [00:13:53]:

Time and walk out the door and.

Speaker C [00:13:55]:

Wait for that paycheck to come.

Josh Wagner [00:13:56]:

This one came with repercussions. So all of a sudden you go from it being a lifestyle to it.

Speaker C [00:14:02]:

Being a job and lifestyle together. Anybody who thinks that they can enter the hospitality industry from the beginning and be on the operational side or the ownership side, if they don't understand that it's a lifestyle, they're sorely mistaken.

Angelo Esposito [00:14:16]:

And I think a lot of people where there's a bit of a shock sometimes just how much math, to a certain extent, is required on the business side. When you start thinking about plate costing and drink menus. And obviously there's a lot of art that goes into it as well. And it's that balance between the artistic side and the marketing and sales side. But there's a lot of just pure business. Like at the end of the day, it's we need to make this a profitable business. How do we do that? And understanding, costing, understanding inventory, understanding, permits, understanding all these things is something I guess that you just get thrown into as you work your way up the ladder.

Josh Wagner [00:14:46]:

Totally. And, you know, it's, again, what I was saying earlier, like horizontal leads to vertical. As much as you can learn, you want to get into every element of.

Speaker C [00:14:54]:

The business because they all depend on each other.

Josh Wagner [00:14:57]:

If you're really just horse blinders in.

Speaker C [00:15:00]:

One area, you're not going to appreciate how the trickle down effect works.

Josh Wagner [00:15:04]:

For that, everything, every line item means something. And I was grateful to be able to work in a hotel environment for.

Speaker C [00:15:11]:

Many years of my career because I was able to see a lot of different elements of the hospitality business and not just the bar side and the fun side. There was a loyalty situation involved.

Josh Wagner [00:15:23]:

There was repeat guests, customers heads in beds upstairs meant also consistency of business downstairs, and also how to program that.

Speaker C [00:15:32]:

And understanding that the most valuable guests.

Josh Wagner [00:15:35]:

You can have walk through your door is a great local because their friends will come and ask them where to stay and they're going to want to go to places that their friends tell them to go and stay and hang out. And it's many different layers of the.

Speaker C [00:15:47]:

Business that if you're not familiar with the hospitality industry and you think it's easy to go and buy a drink and order some food, and the lighting is right and the music sounds good and the way you're greeted is taking.

Josh Wagner [00:15:59]:

Care of the right way and how your check is dropped and your plate is picked up. These are all things that are to be considered. Once you catch an eye for those things, it's hard to go out and have a calm night without paying attention.

Speaker C [00:16:10]:

To all the details around you.

Angelo Esposito [00:16:11]:

I can only imagine. And so from your point of view, I'm just thinking about it. You went from promoter all about the customer experience, building that up. Want to take it a step further, like you said, became that eager beaver working your way up in the hotel life. What did the next step for you look like after working at 22 years old at that specific hotel in Miami? What was the next transition for you? The next challenge?

Josh Wagner [00:16:33]:

I was in Miami. My boss got a promotion to New.

Speaker C [00:16:35]:

York, and that led to me getting.

Josh Wagner [00:16:37]:

Another, an opportunity as well to move.

Speaker C [00:16:39]:

Up to New York, to the Hudson Hotel in New York City, which, you.

Josh Wagner [00:16:43]:

Know, 800 plus room hotel in the.

Speaker C [00:16:45]:

Early two thousands, was an incredibly successful place. It was the it spot, many layers.

Josh Wagner [00:16:50]:

Of the business, and I got a shot to go up to New York to run a couple bars.

Speaker C [00:16:56]:

And it was a really quick jump.

Josh Wagner [00:16:59]:

Outlet, essentially to having multiple outlets and.

Speaker C [00:17:01]:

Having influence in a much larger game from a financial perspective and team perspective, employee perspective, dealing with union employees, dealing.

Josh Wagner [00:17:11]:

With a hotel three times the size.

Speaker C [00:17:14]:

That I was accustomed to, and being in New York City where there's a different expectation of service than coming down to Miami to have fun, that was.

Josh Wagner [00:17:20]:

A big jump up. And that then led me on a one night phone call to get on a plane to fly out to Los Angeles to another one of the sister properties that had an incident happened where I had to go and live in the hotel for a couple months and help rebuild a team from scratch, which was, you know, morning, afternoon and night shift. Because it's a hotel and you've got a pool deck and you've got breakfast, lunch and dinner. The first couple years, it was a.

Speaker C [00:17:46]:

Real whirlwind of a bunch of different properties from New York, La, London, back to Miami.

Josh Wagner [00:17:53]:

A series of openings in many different situations, from openings to rebounds to restructures. I got a crash course in a lot of properties that all were in the same realm of design forward. Food and beverage forward, very nightlife focused. And then I was able to, you know, be with the company when it transitioned and started going a little bit more towards the guest experience. As boutique hotels across the board had, it had to elevate their programming to also be a hotel experience, and not.

Speaker C [00:18:26]:

Just about the restaurants and bars.

Angelo Esposito [00:18:27]:

And you touched on having to go to LA and building a team. And I think that sentence right there, building a team, is something that a lot of people struggle with because it's hard, in general, it's hard to build a good team and hire good people. But I think it's especially hard in hospitality to find good talent. Not that there isn't good talent, there's a lot of good talent. But how do you find, or any tips for people listening on how to build a good team and how to find good talent?

Josh Wagner [00:18:52]:

This is a business that's for certain.

Speaker C [00:18:54]:

People and not for others.

Josh Wagner [00:18:56]:

I think being brutally honest with somebody.

Speaker C [00:18:58]:

What their expectations should be is something.

Josh Wagner [00:19:00]:

You need to share right from the get go. This is a business where you have to have thick skin and a short memory, and you're put in pressured situations where you have people that may not treat you so nicely from a guest experience, let alone your teammates. And I think you need to be brutally honest with the expectations of what the project is first. And then I think you need to find somebody who is passionate about people and understanding that it is a people business. It is how you interact with other individuals. If you can't check your emotion at.

Speaker C [00:19:30]:

The door, it's a very difficult place.

Josh Wagner [00:19:33]:

For business to work in. Every time I walk into any place.

Speaker C [00:19:36]:

That I've ever worked, 20 yards outside that door, I take a deep breath.

Josh Wagner [00:19:40]:

And I said, nobody in there deserves.

Speaker C [00:19:42]:

The anything less than the best side of me.

Josh Wagner [00:19:44]:

A positive, optimistic side, where I'm supportive.

Speaker C [00:19:46]:

And lending a hand, and I'm trying.

Josh Wagner [00:19:47]:

To do whatever I can to make.

Speaker C [00:19:49]:

The environment that day a pleasant one for myself, my guests, and my coworkers, I think that you really have to.

Josh Wagner [00:19:56]:

Have that separation of emotion. And then I always, whenever I've interviewed anybody, I like to hold up my.

Speaker C [00:20:02]:

Hand and open up five fingers and show them a hand and ask them what this is. And most people say it's a stop.

Josh Wagner [00:20:09]:

Sign, it's a wave, it's a halt, it's five fingers. But it's also, most people identify the positive space, meaning the five fingers that.

Speaker C [00:20:18]:

I have in front of their face and the palm of my hand.

Josh Wagner [00:20:20]:

When someone can say, you're blocking my view, I think that's really valuable because identifying the negative space, the empty space.

Speaker C [00:20:28]:

Is a big thing in the hospitality industry. You have to see things before they happen.

Josh Wagner [00:20:34]:

You have to see the empty space and how you can fill it. You have to identify the problem so you can have the solution before it becomes one. So I think people that are very observant, people that are very tolerant, people that love to be around people and also just being brutally honest, I think the best teams that exist out there are the ones that can share their true feelings with each other and they.

Speaker C [00:20:56]:

Can really focus on their goals by honesty, transparency and knowing. If we don't get along today, like I'm cool with it, to wake up and forget about it and move forward, because we all have that same destination of success to get to things, get.

Josh Wagner [00:21:11]:

In a short memory.

Angelo Esposito [00:21:12]:

And how do you go about working on that work life balance, knowing that hospitality is tough hours. It's typically late nights. How do you go about just managing that work life balance? Because sometimes that line gets grayed out because you're just working really long hours and really late nights.

Josh Wagner [00:21:30]:

For me, 100 hours a week was normal.

Speaker C [00:21:32]:

When I first started working. That was pretty easy.

Josh Wagner [00:21:36]:

Ten hour shift was not a big deal whatsoever, let alone a twelve hour.

Speaker C [00:21:39]:

Shift was not a big deal either.

Josh Wagner [00:21:41]:

I think that you have to start with good habits. I wish someone had told me from a very young age when I got into this business, set some rules, set some ground rules and set some goals to prevent yourself from getting into any bad habits. It's a very taxing job physically, that.

Speaker C [00:21:58]:

Can lead into then emotionally.

Josh Wagner [00:22:00]:

And you really need to take the time to set some ground rules and some parameters. It's not very common today to hire somebody to ask them to work 12 hours a week and get 100% of.

Speaker C [00:22:11]:

Them every single day. We have to be a lot more conscious about how we spend our time and ask things of the people that we work with, let alone most people don't want to put that time in today.

Josh Wagner [00:22:22]:

So I think it's setting parameters, clear parameters.

Speaker C [00:22:25]:

It's all about communication and expectations.

Josh Wagner [00:22:28]:

You can't just say, hey, here's the task, go get it, figure it out. No, here's what we're going to do. Here's what it's going to take from you. I want to ask this much time of you. I think if I spoke to my 20 year old self, I would say start great habits now.

Speaker C [00:22:43]:

Get into certain rules that you're going to abide to and you're going to stick to, and you're going to share with everybody.

Josh Wagner [00:22:48]:

This is what I do.

Speaker C [00:22:49]:

I'm not slowing anything down, but I got to take my time to do x, y, and z, and that's going to help me be productive every day. Because if you're showing up and you're.

Josh Wagner [00:22:58]:

On fumes and you're not giving it.

Speaker C [00:23:00]:

Your all, you might as well not be there.

Josh Wagner [00:23:01]:


Speaker C [00:23:02]:

Anyone I ever worked with was in the workplace and they were in a bad mood, sour that they were spreading that, just negativity. Just don't show up.

Josh Wagner [00:23:10]:

I'll pick up your section, get out.

Speaker C [00:23:12]:

Of here and come back. When you get that smile back on your face, it's important that if you are going to be working, you should be present, positive, and contributing to the matter at hand.

Angelo Esposito [00:23:21]:

Yeah, I can agree more. I think you nailed it. Like, good vibes are contagious, but so are bad vibes.

Josh Wagner [00:23:25]:

They're worse. They're ten times worse. You can see the ship sinking in front of you. When somebody is not engaged, it just spreads everywhere.

Speaker C [00:23:33]:

You just see the whole thing fall apart. You work in a restaurant, bar, anything, you can see it going down, and it's just. It's not a pleasant. It's not a pleasant sight.

Angelo Esposito [00:23:42]:

Have you ever been in a position where you had to let go of someone, not because of their skills, maybe they were actually very good skill wise, but because of their attitude 100%?

Josh Wagner [00:23:52]:

Many times.

Angelo Esposito [00:23:53]:

The reason I ask is, in the tech world, sometimes people think, I got this amazing programmer, he's so good, but nobody on the team gets along with him. And I always tell people, my philosophy is, listen, nobody is good enough to be an asshole. You know what I mean? No matter how good someone is, if they're going to spread that negative energy everywhere, it's like, that's an important thing to consider because it affects the rest of your team. Excuse me. So, yeah, I'm just curious, when it comes to the hospitality side, how you manage that, you might find someone who's a machine when it comes to, I don't know, making drinks or being in the kitchen or whatever it is. But with that wrong attitude, how do.

Josh Wagner [00:24:23]:

You approach that clear expectations. You have to define roles and what.

Speaker C [00:24:27]:

People should be held accountable for.

Josh Wagner [00:24:29]:

I've literally, the amount of people that I've had to.

Speaker C [00:24:32]:

Not the amount. It's not the tremendous amount of people.

Josh Wagner [00:24:34]:

But the amount of people that I've had let go.

Speaker C [00:24:36]:

The percentage of them that literally wrote me an apology letter afterwards and called me, or sat there in the meeting, and I said, you know what? This is about. And they said, this is my fault.

Josh Wagner [00:24:45]:

You. If you can explain expectations clear as.

Speaker C [00:24:48]:

Day, a to z, Crystal, someone is.

Josh Wagner [00:24:50]:

Going to know when they mess up. I have zero qualms about holding somebody.

Speaker C [00:24:54]:

Accountable to what they should be held accountable for.

Josh Wagner [00:24:57]:

So I've had really, a handful of times where I felt really horrible about letting somebody go because every time they were let go, it was deserved. So, you know, it's, if you can be a great boss, if you can be a great leader, to say, this is what it takes to be on this team, and if somebody breaks it, they should be held accountable. Otherwise, it's not a great team if somebody's not doing their job. All right. Thank you for the time and effort, but it wasn't working here.

Angelo Esposito [00:25:26]:

Yeah. And so I'd love to just maybe get to, where are you at today? What projects are you working on today for the ones that you could share. I don't know if there's any that you can. What are you working on today? What are you excited about? And then I'd love to maybe chat a little bit about the landscape. Right. Like, we're in a weird situation with these lockdowns going on. So I'd love to maybe chat a bit about that. But first, let's get into the fun stuff.

Angelo Esposito [00:25:48]:

What are you excited about? What are you working on?

Josh Wagner [00:25:50]:

Angelo? Every day is exciting.

Speaker C [00:25:51]:

Every day is an adventure. Every day is what's going to happen.

Josh Wagner [00:25:54]:

Today type situation, for good or for bad. Because, as you said, you know, there's a lot of uncertainty out there. I just spent, I should say I.

Speaker C [00:26:01]:

Just spent because now I've been back in the States for the past seven.

Josh Wagner [00:26:04]:

Months, but I was living abroad in Japan for two years and unexpectedly came back to the United States due to.

Speaker C [00:26:11]:

Wonderful coronavirus that has just devastated so much about the hospitality industry.

Josh Wagner [00:26:16]:

So came back with not a solid game plan because it happened so abruptly.

Speaker C [00:26:21]:

Because I was invested in some projects overseas.

Josh Wagner [00:26:23]:

But that being said, what am I engaged in today? I'm an investor and owner in a.

Speaker C [00:26:27]:

Couple properties down here in Miami.

Josh Wagner [00:26:29]:

I'm an investor in a property called.

Speaker C [00:26:31]:

Sweet Liberty, which is a company cocktail bar here at Miami beach that was created by the late, great John Lemaire.

Josh Wagner [00:26:36]:

Love him for eternity.

Speaker C [00:26:37]:

And that's been a bar that's been open for five years that has received a bunch of great accolades over the years. Top 50 bars, best american bar, an amazing place. I'm just happy to have been able to have the opportunity to invest in from the beginning. Then, while I was abroad, I was approached by old, near dear friends Ladsvi.

Josh Wagner [00:26:54]:

And Gabe Orta, who are the founders.

Speaker C [00:26:55]:

Of Barlab and know them from places like Broken and Shaker inside the freehand hotels between New York, Chicago, LA and Miami.

Josh Wagner [00:27:01]:

They got in touch with me while I was overseas and asked me if.

Speaker C [00:27:04]:

I would become an investor in a new bar.

Josh Wagner [00:27:06]:

They're opening downtown, which is called Margot Natural Wine Bar, which was going to be really shockingly the first natural wine bar in the city of Miami, which.

Speaker C [00:27:15]:

Was nuts because all major cities across the states have natural wine bar places.

Josh Wagner [00:27:19]:

And that's what's supposed to be the only one. But that was supposed to open February march in downtown.

Speaker C [00:27:24]:

But obviously because of coronavirus, we had.

Josh Wagner [00:27:26]:

To make a pivotal. So we found a pop up location.

Speaker C [00:27:28]:

Inside of legendary Nicki beach south of.

Josh Wagner [00:27:31]:

Fifth in Miami and we turned a negative into a positive and saw a.

Speaker C [00:27:35]:

Blank canvas and we created a space that was built for coronavirus and that.

Josh Wagner [00:27:39]:

Is existing right now about 5000 sqft.

Speaker C [00:27:42]:

On the sand south of Fifth.

Josh Wagner [00:27:43]:

A natural wine bar, which we're really proud of. But we'll be opening the location downtown in February, March in the process of other locations. And then I'm consulting on a couple other projects that really can't get into.

Speaker C [00:27:57]:

Tons of details right now, but very.

Josh Wagner [00:27:59]:

Excited about some really big awesome stuff coming. And I'm also contributing to some online.

Speaker C [00:28:05]:

Content for some videos for a hospitality related program as well. I've done some stuff like you're doing.

Josh Wagner [00:28:11]:

Right now interviewing me, I've done to some others. So I'm involved with some of that as well. When you ask about what's coming, I'm all optimism. Like, I think this is such an.

Speaker C [00:28:21]:

Incredible moment for the hospitality business because.

Josh Wagner [00:28:24]:

You know, I think that blank canvases.

Speaker C [00:28:25]:

Are gorgeous for beautiful artists.

Josh Wagner [00:28:27]:

If you can take something and create something new, you're seeing, you're going to.

Speaker C [00:28:31]:

See, and you are seeing levels of creativity this industry is going to put.

Josh Wagner [00:28:36]:

Out with such pride. Is it sad that some people aren't going to make it through?

Speaker C [00:28:40]:

Yes, it's absolutely devastating.

Josh Wagner [00:28:42]:

I've had many friends and colleagues suffered tremendous losses this past six, seven months. Some people who won't rebound from it, some people who just are going to leave the industry entirely and find what makes them happy. And that is also a huge win because there's a lot of people that have found a new thing that they love to engage in and have found a new lifestyle and purpose which you have to applaud.

Speaker C [00:29:05]:

It's when someone says so and so, shut down.

Josh Wagner [00:29:07]:

Did you hear? What a travesty. You didn't ask. Maybe they chose to also find another.

Speaker C [00:29:12]:

Thing that brought them greater joy.

Josh Wagner [00:29:13]:

So we have to stop living and this bulimic society where we let information.

Speaker C [00:29:18]:

Get halfway down our throat and throw it back up without digesting and asking the right questions of why things happened.

Josh Wagner [00:29:23]:

And what they were for. So I think you're going to have this incredible moment of people really putting their head to the grind and saying, how do we make this work? Where's the opportunities? What can we create that's beautiful? What can we create that I'm passionate about? I think you're going to see more passion projects coming out than ever. I think that people are really going to double down. The ones who stayed in this business are going to say, I'm going to make this work, I'm going to figure this out, and I'm going to bring my 100% truth to this, my love to this one thing I think that anyone can acknowledge. When you walk into a venue, you can tell if someone loves it. You can feel that.

Speaker C [00:30:00]:

You can walk into this gorgeous place, but if it feels cold and sterile.

Josh Wagner [00:30:04]:

Someone was hired to just put something together with other strangers and it looks.

Speaker C [00:30:08]:

Pretty, but it may not have that soul and injection of warmth that when you walk into a place that somebody.

Josh Wagner [00:30:13]:

Who does love it, you can feel it. I think that from a guest experience.

Speaker C [00:30:17]:

Perspective, you're going to have such an.

Josh Wagner [00:30:20]:

Incredible moment of valued product, a great product that's been contemplated about, not rushed, thought of and saying, how can this work? You're going to see guests having some amazing experiences. Maybe you won't have. Maybe in your neighborhood there wasn't 30 restaurants within walking distance, and maybe it's going to go down to 15, but those 15 people are going to pour their lives and heart into it. And I think that if you're acknowledging.

Speaker C [00:30:47]:

These efforts, you can have such an incredible guest experience. You can contribute to your experience if.

Josh Wagner [00:30:52]:

You just know how to be a better guest these days.

Speaker C [00:30:54]:

We've all sat at home for so long, and if you go in as a guest with an upbeat attitude and.

Josh Wagner [00:31:00]:

Ask the right questions about somebody who's pouring their life into it, you're going to have such a great experience as.

Speaker C [00:31:05]:

A guest as well.

Angelo Esposito [00:31:06]:

Yeah, I would agree with you, definitely. And I could imagine that there will probably be a certain explosion in creativity. I could definitely see that. I'm curious to get your thoughts on what things do you think maybe won't, quote unquote, go back to normal. So in other words, do you think there are habits or patterns that maybe people are getting used to now that maybe will stick around when things are again, quote unquote, fully back?

Josh Wagner [00:31:29]:

Yeah, I mean, listen, like, we've all.

Speaker C [00:31:31]:

Had all these conversations a million times over these past couple months of, I.

Josh Wagner [00:31:35]:

Learned how to cook better, I learned how to bake bread, and, like, now I, like, grew my own garden. That is absolutely wonderful. And I think people are really more.

Speaker C [00:31:44]:

Conscious of their consumption. They've taken the time to develop some skills. I think people have also realized, oh, my God, like, I ate out six times a week and that is crazy. Like, I now just save myself so much money by just doing something I've been passionate about at home. I think that you also have people who, I think this is like the golden age of luxury travel in my lifetime. I think that since the invention of the jet engine, you literally have this.

Josh Wagner [00:32:13]:

Moment that if you have tremendous wealth.

Speaker C [00:32:15]:

You have access to anything right now.

Josh Wagner [00:32:18]:

That most people don't. Before the jet engine, if I said.

Speaker C [00:32:21]:

To you, hey, Angelo, like, I'm in Miami, I'm gonna go to Australia. Australia, I'd be like, cool, I'll see.

Josh Wagner [00:32:25]:

You in eight days.

Speaker C [00:32:26]:

And now it's, people can go and have these incredibly curated experiences because they have the means to do so.

Josh Wagner [00:32:34]:

There's a couple things that I think will change. I think luxury travel is going to.

Speaker C [00:32:38]:

See an epic five years ahead.

Josh Wagner [00:32:40]:

People who were wealthy before coronavirus are wealthier now. And to have this customizable experience is.

Speaker C [00:32:46]:

Going to be a real thing.

Josh Wagner [00:32:48]:

Give me option a, B or c.

Speaker C [00:32:50]:

Expensive, more expensive, and I don't even care to look at the bill. And people just want to be held by the hand and say, you can have the most incredible thing you've never had before. I think that's a real thing.

Josh Wagner [00:33:00]:

I think that people who are conscious.

Speaker C [00:33:02]:

Of their budgets, they're going to be a lot more aware and educated and discerning about the experiences they have, because.

Josh Wagner [00:33:09]:

Those dollars mean a lot more to.

Speaker C [00:33:11]:

Them than they did before.

Josh Wagner [00:33:12]:

So I think that guests are going.

Speaker C [00:33:15]:

To be asking for an elevated experience and be valuing every dollar they spend.

Josh Wagner [00:33:22]:

And expect a great customer experience and.

Speaker C [00:33:25]:

A great quality product.

Josh Wagner [00:33:26]:

I think business owners know that if you're sticking in this business, we want.

Speaker C [00:33:30]:

To be able to meet all those needs.

Josh Wagner [00:33:32]:

So I think that the quality product, the quality of product is going to rise. But I also think that think about hospitality. Evaluation has changed. Hospitality also means how do we enter your household? How do we get direct to consumer how do I build you the beverage.

Speaker C [00:33:47]:

Package that you can bring home and make your own cocktails at home?

Josh Wagner [00:33:50]:

How can you purchase my homemade lasagna.

Speaker C [00:33:54]:

From my restaurant and defrost it in your fridge twice a week instead of coming into the restaurant? So the hospitality experience has changed.

Josh Wagner [00:34:02]:

It's evolved to how can we meet.

Speaker C [00:34:04]:

The needs of our guests in our.

Josh Wagner [00:34:06]:

Venues or in their own home? It's a different moment. You have to really think outside the box of how to keep engaged customers, not just when they come and see you, but curiously reach out to them respectfully, get their attention, and be grateful for their loyalty. You know, what hospitality means today I would have spoken about very differently a year ago in terms of the expectation of how to engage with your guests and how to ask for their return and their loyalty.

Angelo Esposito [00:34:32]:

I think I can definitely connect thoughts a little more. I mean, this is me. I think I can connect it a little more clearly when it comes to restaurant bars and maybe you can shed some light. Is seeing, like, a clearer picture for the event based venues, whether it's an actual nightclub or just straight up events. Any thoughts on, like, how do you see those kind of work in the near future?

Josh Wagner [00:34:55]:

Coming back with fury. Like, coming back with pure fury. I think that people have very short memories, man. I remember the first flight I had.

Speaker C [00:35:05]:

To get on after September 11, and I was like, this sucks.

Josh Wagner [00:35:08]:

I was like, this. I had to get to the airport 4 hours ahead of time. I went through three security checks. Like, what the hell?

Speaker C [00:35:14]:

Like, they looked through everything.

Josh Wagner [00:35:16]:

Like, I got my little scissors to clip my nose hairs taken away from me. Like, what's going on?

Speaker C [00:35:22]:

Yes, I'm Harry. So.

Josh Wagner [00:35:23]:

And it sucked. But the second time, I was like, all right, that's the way I fly now.

Speaker C [00:35:27]:

That's the reality of the world.

Josh Wagner [00:35:29]:

As quickly as this entered our lives.

Speaker C [00:35:31]:

It'S going to as quickly, and that's just a reality.

Josh Wagner [00:35:34]:

I know people may disagree with what.

Speaker C [00:35:36]:

I'm saying, but when you tear the band aid off and scab doesn't come.

Josh Wagner [00:35:41]:

Back again, you're just going to run back into it. I live in Miami, and I know not just a couple, but thousands of people that go out here every single.

Speaker C [00:35:50]:

Night without a mask. And they're impact small venues.

Josh Wagner [00:35:54]:

Some people simply don't care. The everyone. I will never be a judge to how you want to live your life.

Speaker C [00:36:01]:

Everyone has the rights to do the same. And when it comes to big events.

Josh Wagner [00:36:05]:

The moment the first cruise ship is able to be boarded, I'm going to guarantee you it's packed. The first concert that is open, I'm.

Speaker C [00:36:12]:

Going to guarantee you it's going to be packed.

Josh Wagner [00:36:14]:

And that nightclub that can fit 10,000 people, it's going to be packed because there are people that simply made the decision, okay, don't judge me. And if you do, I'm still going to do what I want to do. I'm going to live my life. And as we now are approaching vaccine after vaccine, and people are realizing how.

Speaker C [00:36:33]:

To live with this differently, the future.

Josh Wagner [00:36:35]:

Of events is going to be absolutely insane. Nightclubs are going to literally completely be.

Speaker C [00:36:41]:

Packed, and festivals will be packed.

Josh Wagner [00:36:42]:

Now, personally, I'm not dining indoors. I'm not meeting in enclosed spaces. That's just me. Because I want to hang out with.

Speaker C [00:36:52]:

My mom, and I want to see myself new baby, my sister's new new daughter, and she's a week old.

Josh Wagner [00:36:58]:

And I want to be responsible for how I think responsible is.

Speaker C [00:37:03]:

I do think that we live in a very divided country on how people evaluate this. And I think coronavirus has done a phenomenal job of showing countries true colors.

Josh Wagner [00:37:13]:

On how people handle situations. So for me, I'm a. I'm an individual that I want to be respectful.

Speaker C [00:37:19]:

For the common good, and I want.

Josh Wagner [00:37:21]:

To play my part, what I think is my part, and what I think the event space and the concert space and everything, you open those doors, it's going to be full. And that's people.

Speaker C [00:37:32]:


Josh Wagner [00:37:32]:

They have corona dream. People have been doing everything that they can. And again, I'm not one to judge. I'm just. This is my opinion, but I think that if you opened a huge, amazing concert with an insane lineup or subpar, people want to feel the energy of other human beings. People miss hugs and kisses and smiles and the pulse of a crowd and.

Speaker C [00:37:57]:

The consistent nod of a head across.

Josh Wagner [00:38:00]:

The scope of an arena. And it sucks for a lot of.

Speaker C [00:38:04]:

People who feel that's not the right thing to do.

Josh Wagner [00:38:07]:

I think this also goes back to.

Speaker C [00:38:08]:

The threat of hospitality. You can't make everybody happy.

Josh Wagner [00:38:12]:

You just hope that people are safe.

Speaker C [00:38:13]:

And respectful when they are in areas.

Josh Wagner [00:38:16]:

Where they should be abiding.

Speaker C [00:38:18]:

And I'm a big supporter of if you're supposed to be social distancing, you.

Josh Wagner [00:38:22]:

Should be doing it.

Angelo Esposito [00:38:23]:

Awesome. That's a lot of insight. I think our listeners are really going to take that in and really dissect a lot of the experiences you just shared. I think it makes a ton of sense, especially what you said about the cruise lines. For some reason, when you said, I was smiling just because I was thinking, he's right. I could definitely see the first cruise that comes back being packed. So there is a lot of truth.

Josh Wagner [00:38:43]:

It's not.

Speaker C [00:38:44]:

I'm not making any political statements.

Josh Wagner [00:38:46]:

I just think that you.

Angelo Esposito [00:38:47]:

No, no, no, I'm not. Yeah.

Josh Wagner [00:38:48]:

You have to remember that people have incredibly short memories. There are legitimately not a small percentage. There is a massive percentage of people.

Speaker C [00:38:57]:

That don't care about this thing.

Josh Wagner [00:39:00]:

Let me say that again. They don't care about this. It's slowed their life down and their joy. And they'll be the first one proclaim.

Speaker C [00:39:09]:

I don't care about you, Corona.

Josh Wagner [00:39:12]:

And they'll be the first ones through the door. Now, will everyone feel comfortable? No, I won't feel comfortable. But there is enough people, and especially when we talk about hospitality, we're talking about nightlife programming perspective, younger people who, unless they were personally affected by this.

Speaker C [00:39:27]:

They don't respect it.

Josh Wagner [00:39:28]:

So they want to run into the flame like a moth to a light. They want to go in and say, it doesn't matter to me. I'm going to live my life and I'm surrounded by other people.

Speaker C [00:39:39]:


Josh Wagner [00:39:39]:

Take off your mask in here, it doesn't matter to me. We're all on the same page. So people seek comfort in numbers. So you get a bunch of people not caring. They're a strong unit and they're going to keep on doing what they want.

Angelo Esposito [00:39:51]:

Yeah, I hear you. We love to end off the segment at Wisking It All with last day on earth. So this is your last on earth. What would be your go to meal? Food that you're gonna eat and drink that you have to have.

Josh Wagner [00:40:05]:

So you're asking me what I did for the first, like, two months of coronavirus. Because that's how I felt last day on earth. Tell me again.

Speaker C [00:40:12]:

It was, what would I eat?

Angelo Esposito [00:40:13]:

Yeah, what would be your go to meal and go to drink? Like, last on earth? You're asking for a meal and a drink could be anything, any alcoholic type drink or it doesn't have to be alcoholic, but really just what would be your go to meal and drink? This is your last day on earth and you can choose a meal and drink cooking.

Josh Wagner [00:40:29]:

That's one thing that I think it would be awesome to use my hands and I'm eating with my hands also.

Speaker C [00:40:35]:

I'm not using a fork or a knife. I'm going to be primal.

Josh Wagner [00:40:37]:

If I'm going out, I'm going to be the animal that I am. I think that anything that you cook tastes better, and hopefully it's going to be surrounded with ones I love that.

Speaker C [00:40:48]:

Will contribute to me.

Josh Wagner [00:40:49]:

So I would like my last day on to earth to be surrounded by my loved ones, that we all share.

Speaker C [00:40:55]:

A communal meal together, that each person.

Josh Wagner [00:40:57]:

Plays their part and we know we.

Speaker C [00:40:59]:

All made it together. So it's going to be tasting wonderful together.

Josh Wagner [00:41:03]:

Don't need to say a specific thing.

Speaker C [00:41:04]:

Because I think it's the company that.

Josh Wagner [00:41:06]:

Was going to make it delicious. And from a beverage perspective, I'm going to have to go with a mezcal Negroni as a cocktail because it's a cocktail that's been near and dear to my heart for many years. And then I'm probably going to to have some wonderful going.

Speaker C [00:41:22]:

Red wine on the table. I'm a big fan of Carminer, a very underappreciated grape that is easy to consume. And you can have lots of it.

Josh Wagner [00:41:31]:

Because it's my last day on earth.

Speaker C [00:41:33]:

I'm going to stuff my belly, and I'm going to enjoy some great wine, and I'm going to be loving the company I keep, and it'll be a wonderful meal. And Angelo, you're invited. And I hope that last day on.

Josh Wagner [00:41:44]:

Earth is not soon, but we should.

Speaker C [00:41:45]:

Still do that anyway sometime soon.

Angelo Esposito [00:41:47]:

Cheers to that. Cheers to that. Josh, thanks so much for being on this episode of Wisking It All. It was a real pleasure to have you on the show.

Josh Wagner [00:41:55]:

I appreciate it greatly. And optimism in the future of hospitality. There's great things to come. And for those who really want to.

Speaker C [00:42:02]:

Be able to live a life that is part of their lifestyle, like a career and a life together, the hospitality is a great thing. If not, maybe you should look in a different direction.

Angelo Esposito [00:42:13]:

Fair enough. It's good talking to you, Josh.

Josh Wagner [00:42:15]:

Thanks. Take care.

Meet Your Host & Guest

Josh Wagner, Hospitality Specialist

Josh Wagner is a revered figure in the hospitality industry, esteemed by executives, professionals, celebrities, and guests alike for his exceptional leadership. With a career spanning over two decades, Josh has consistently spearheaded world-class teams in launching beloved food, beverage, hotel, and entertainment concepts. His unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation has earned him a reputation as a trusted leader, driving success and setting new standards of excellence in every venture he undertakes. Passionate about creating unforgettable experiences, Josh Wagner continues to leave an indelible mark on the hospitality landscape, captivating hearts and minds with his visionary approach and unwavering dedication to perfection.


Meet Angelo Esposito, the Co-Founder and CEO of WISK.ai, Angelo's vision is to revolutionize the hospitality industry by creating an inventory software that allows bar and restaurant owners to streamline their operations, improve their margins and sales, and minimize waste. With over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry, Angelo deeply understands the challenges faced by bar and restaurant owners. From managing inventory to tracking sales to forecasting demand, Angelo has seen it all firsthand. This gave him the insight he needed to create WISK.ai.

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Show notes

Episode Notes

Josh Wagner, a hospitality specialist with 20 years of experience, shares his journey from being a promoter to owning and consulting for bars and restaurants. He emphasizes the importance of creating unique experiences and the joy of bringing people together. Josh discusses the transition from being a promoter to getting involved in the operational and business side of hospitality. He highlights the need for clear expectations, building a strong team, and maintaining a work-life balance. Josh also shares his insights on the future of the hospitality industry, including the rise of luxury travel and the return of events and concerts.


  • Creating unique experiences and bringing people together are key aspects of hospitality.
  • Clear expectations and building a strong team are crucial for success in the industry.
  • Maintaining a work-life balance is important, and setting ground rules and parameters can help achieve this.
  • The future of hospitality will see an increase in luxury travel and a focus on providing high-quality experiences.
  • Events and concerts will make a comeback, and people's desire for social interaction and shared experiences will drive their attendance.


00:00 Introduction and Purpose of the Interview

08:14 Building a Strong Team and Maintaining Work-Life Balance

29:42 The Return of Events and Concerts in the Hospitality Industry

40:09 Last Day on Earth: Go-To Meal and Drink


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