victor medina feature

La Pulperia – A Fashionable Q&A with New York Restaurateur Victor Medina

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In NewsWhistle’s weekly question-and-answer series, Clara Morgan speaks with some of her favorite influencers and finds out more about their lives and careers. This week, Clara speaks with restaurateur Victor Medina, co-owner of the La Pulperia Latin American restaurants.

A native of Puebla, Mexico, Victor has worked in the New York City restaurant world for more than 15 years, with stints at restaurants such as Jackson Hole, Maya, and Toloache. Victor and Executive Chef Carlos Barroz opened La Pulperia’s first location, in the Upper East Side, in 2014; locations in Midtown East and Hell’s Kitchen soon followed.

When he’s not in the office or on the floor at one of his restaurants, Victor can be found playing in the park with his son, taking his daughters to concerts or Broadway musicals, or watching soccer, tennis, or boxing.

A Fashionable Q&A with Restaurateur Victor Medina

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1. How and when did you first realize you wanted to work in your current industry?

Since I moved to New York City from my native country, I started working in the industry—delivery boy, busser. I fell in love with customer service, and I knew that that was going to be my long-term career.

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2. What is your biggest career highlight to date?

Expanding and opening a third location in one of the most difficult businesses.

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3. Any celebrity clients or memorable stories related to your business that you want to share?

I have a good relationship with and personally know Landon Donovan; I love soccer, so that was super cool. And I met Neil Patrick Harris; I used to be a manager at a place he goes to all the time. I hope he comes to my place sometime! We became close, but I never asked him for his phone number or anything, because I respect his privacy. I have a lot of memories with celebrities—at my first job, I met Paul Newman. Through the years I’ve met big celebrities, but I always respect their privacy.

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4. How would you describe your personal style?

I’m very casual, but business. I don’t wear ties, but I always wear a blazer. People know that I always try to be neat, clean, and presentable.

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5. What is a typical day in your life like?

Waking up in the morning, saying bye to my two daughters and my son before they go to school; even if I’m very tired, I will see my kids off to school. After that, it’s office work, which is emails, back of the house business. Then it’s working the floor—going all over to the three restaurants, and finishing around 2 AM. It’s a long day, but I enjoy it.

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6. What are three never-miss events on your calendar?

My kids’ birthdays; I will never miss a one-of-a-kind event; and my daughters’ concerts.

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7. What are your three favorite locations in the city?

I love Central Park! I also enjoy DUMBO in Brooklyn, and I’d say the third would be the East River walk on the Upper East Side.

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8. What are your favorite restaurants in the city?

There’s a mom and pop place in my neighborhood called Cascalote Latin Bistro; Dirty French, I love that place; and Joe Allen Restaurant.

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9. What about your favorite bars?

Apotheke, La Contenta, and Penrose.

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10. What has been your best New York moment? What about the worst?

My worst moment was when they fired me at a French restaurant because I didn’t have enough experience; my best moment was when I opened the first La Pulperia location. It was tiny, but for me, it had a lot of meaning.

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victor medina and carlos embedVictor, with La Pulperia Co-Owner / Chef Carlos Barroz

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11. Name your go-to:

a. Outfit— A blazer and dress pants

b. Fragrance— Cartier for men … it’s perfect!

c. Movie— I don’t have a favorite movie, because I really enjoy so many different types of movies. I would never finish! Watching movies is one of my hobbies in my free time.

d. Book— One I just bought, called Tools of Titans; I didn’t go to business school, so what I do is buy books to teach myself. I’m mostly into books that teach business.

e. TV show— Jeopardy!

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12. Name your favorite vacation spot, and the hotel you stay at while there?

One of my favorite spots is Orlando, Florida; my kids love water and roller coasters. We go at least once a year, and one of my favorite hotels is the Rosen Plaza Hotel.

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13. What are three items you couldn’t live without?

My phone, my TV, and wallet!

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14. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?

Richard Branson; I would love to meet him!

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15. Tell us something people might not know about you.

They might not know that I’m very family-oriented; I know a lot of people that don’t know my family. I keep my family very close and very private.

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16. When did you feel like you had “made it” professionally?

When I was promoted from a server to a manager; it took a couple of months, but then I realized that I was made for the position.

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17. Do you have any advice for those aspiring to work in your industry?

Anyone that aspires to work in the industry should read the book Setting the Table by Danny Meyer. Read that book first; if you read the book and like it, then it’s a good industry for you. But if you don’t like it, the restaurant industry might be too much for you. I tell people buy the book, read it, and tell me if you still want to invest in this industry.

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18. What changes do you think your industry will undergo in the next 5-10 years?

Our industry is going to undergo drastic changes; only the best and the strongest will survive the trends. It’s not going to be only about the food, the drinks, the wine—it’s going to be about the full experience. It’s going to be very challenging, and people are going to have to think outside the box and adjust. It’s not enough to have great food.

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19. Is there anything else you’d like to share, discuss or promote?

I invite everyone to visit our restaurants! If you read this article and come to the restaurant, we’ll give you a bottle of Malbac red wine—on us.

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Images Courtesy of La Pulperia