I had the great privilege of interviewing Giampaolo Ienna and learned about his new role in New York City’s second oldest bar and now revamped White Horse Tavern. He generously spent time discussing what led him to this role as VIP Director for the tavern, his work with the famous Hunt & Fish Club, and how the Hospitality industry is his life’s passion. Giampaolo has mastered the art of building and maintaining relationships, which is core to his role at both venues. Please go and follow his Instagram: @giampaoloienna
Bianca: Congratulations on the re-opening of the historic White Horse Tavern! What are you most excited about regarding its next chapter?
Giampaolo: Thank you so much. Being part of the White Horse Tavern is amazing.
First off, it is the 2nd oldest bar in NY allowing me to be part of something greater in its community. However, the most exciting part of it all, and perhaps the greatest honor, is knowing all my hard work at Hunt & Fish Club, and Real Estate was not in vein. Knowing that Eytan Sugarman personally selected me as his “right hand” made everything up to this moment worth it. Now, I can take all my expertise and apply it here.
Many are unaware what VIP hospitality truly represents. It requires you to know your neighborhood, everyone in it, and marry them together to have all guest experiences feel like home. Everyone is a VIP as the community becomes your friend. When they come to my venues, they may like it for what it offers, but they stay because of the company kept.
Bianca: You have been referred to as New York’s “celebrity whisperer.” Is the key component to keeping high profile clientele happy ensuring that you are trustworthy and going to deliver on their more tailored requests? I can imagine that trust in your relationships is key.
Giampaolo: I don’t think it’s much of a “celebrity whisperer” but more of just listening and being a genuine friend.
All everyone wants is a place that is comfortable for them that allows to visit with great company. It’s not about “Giampaolo Ienna works there” but more of “Let’s visit Giampaolo.” That is truly what sets me apart from other VIP Hosts.
As for trust, I don’t think any genuine relationship could ever exist without it.
Bianca: You previously worked for the Hunt & Fish Club (which is the same ownership), will you be working in a similar capacity?
Giampaolo: Actually, I still work for Hunt & Fish Club. FYI Hunt & Fish Club and White Horse Tavern are not under the same ownership. Hunt & Fish Club @huntandfish is owned by Eytan Sugarman in partnership with Nelson Braff while White Horse Tavern @whitehorsetavern1880 was a venture that Eytan decided to do independently.
Eytan loves all things NY, as it is even found in his Instagram handle @boyfromnewyorkcity therefore when this opportunity became available it was just perfect for him.
As for my work, it’s the same. I may have more responsibilities in the back end, but my sole focus is to bring that VIP hospitality experience here.
Bianca: What brought you to New York from Italy and how long have you been here?
Giampaolo: Wow, I came to NYC 10 years ago with a hunger for music as you may have found through previous press mentions, but was introduced to Hospitality simultaneously. During the process of both I chose hospitality as I fell in love with the concept and felt challenged to find my own way to elevate what it represented. Now, I find it is no longer a “job” but instead just a part of who I am. What’s great about this too is I am able to apply this same approach to my other ventures such as Real Estate. You just have to remember, you are dealing with people and you need to pay attention to what they need and want.
Bianca: With the new future of the venue you are in charge of shaping the experiences of the revamped White Horse Tavern. What may be different for VIP guests than their experiences at the Hunt & Fish Club?
Giampaolo: White Horse Tavern and Hunt & Fish Club are different environments. However, my goal is to ensure that the Hospitality remains the same. Sure, the neighborhood, it’s ambiance, and cuisine will change, but the attention to detail, and overall visit will be the same.
Giampaolo: White Horse Tavern is a name in itself, with much history behind it. But our goal is to make it a household name recognized for credits beyond being just a pub. Take myself, I don’t drink, therefore, White Horse Tavern was never a place I would have considered to visit in the past. This is why Eytan felt I was the perfect fit. We are adding new value to the venue beyond the bar, expanding into cuisine, and VIP Hospitality.
As for marketing it through Hunt & Fish Club, absolutely NOT!
White Horse Tavern stands on its own, they are both two separate entities.
Bianca: What can guests expect of the revamped White Horse Tavern in general? What experiences will these be?
Giampaolo: In addition to what has been previously mentioned, our goal is to introduce a new approach to your local pub. It is no longer about someone taking your order and walking away, but instead, we are here to build relationships.