The four-star superior Hotel Einstein in St. Gallen on Berneggstrasse exudes grandeur. Upon entering the Einstein Bar, the knowledgeable guest immediately notices that attention has been paid to every detail. The bar team moving along the dark mahogany wood walls and between the elegant Chesterfield sofas - everything here exudes quality and style. Erik Koren, who has been bar manager at the Einstein Bar since 2018, is partly responsible for this. The bar, which is known far beyond St. Gallen, was awarded the title of "Best Bar Team" at the SWISS BAR AWARDS 2023. Erik Koren emphasizes: "On the one hand, this award gives us confirmation of the work we have done and an enormous amount of publicity. Now the team is stepping on the gas even more."
"ushering in a new era"
Erik Koren had the opportunity to build a new team at this top address after the departure of the old crew. "In this fantastic location," he says. Five years ago, however, the Einstein Bar was not yet so popular. "It was a well-known place in St. Gallen, but few people outside of the hotel guests dared to go to the Einstein Bar, which opened in 1983," he says. With his new team, he has been able to usher in a new era. "Our success is that we have managed to bring the locals into the bar over the last five years. Not only that: we have also been able to expand the bar team thanks to high capacity utilization."
"Many adjustments have been made"
Erik Koren describes how he achieved this: "We've made the whole bar more relaxed and modernized the concept. We've made a lot of adjustments overall." The German mentions the perfectly tailored music, the sophisticated drinks culture and the art, which also give the bar a modern touch. And then there's the stylish red lamp in the shape of a large cigar in the lounge, which exudes a lot of atmosphere. "The Einstein Bar has steadily developed into a very popular place." This also has a lot to do with his bosses, who put their trust in him so that he could bring in his own style.
What skills does Erik Koren value most when recruiting? "Personality!" he says immediately. Basic training in gastronomy is of course always an advantage, but today that is not the most important thing. "Personal contact with the guests is what we want." If someone is sitting opposite him and has a smile on their face, then that is more important to him than someone who knows their way around a whisky. Erik Koren knows that you have to look after good people: "I take great care to ensure that employees don't work too much overtime, for example, and that they have the opportunity to build a social life after work."
"One wheel meshes with the other"
The day begins for the Einstein Bar staff with a briefing. "Everyone has their own area of responsibility. We have a coffee and a cigarette - and off we go!" says Erik Koren, who is responsible for quality management as Chef de Bar. Valentin and Jan are responsible for cocktail production. Dominik is the barback. It is important to Koren to mention that all employees are equal and equally valued. Everyone has the same share of tips. "Everything interlocks like cogwheels here," continues Erik Koren. Everything has to meet the highest standards. If something isn't working, he has to ask himself why it isn't working. The Münster native gives an example: "I don't want a drink to take longer than ten minutes during rush hour. That's sometimes difficult when the place is on fire on a Friday evening and the vouchers are just sitting here. If it takes longer than ten minutes, then either the drinks have to be changed, the service processes or the production.
"Being there for the guests"
Nicole Thürlemann, Assistant Bar Manager, welcomes guests to the Davidoff Cigar Lounge. Not only does she know her way around the cigar menu, which includes over 50 cigars, she also always has a feel for what her guests need. The woman from Eastern Switzerland likes to listen and spreads a positive atmosphere.
Bar talent factory
The Einstein is also a bar talent factory. In October 2022, bar team member Valentin Matter (24) was named "Best Barkeeper Talent" at the SWISS BAR AWARDS. Erik Koren is delighted. "We focus on promoting young talent."
"Closing the circle"
Erik Koren sums up: "Haus Einstein is a sensational employer. We are given full confidence by the management and can realize our ideas here almost without restrictions." This support is the reason why the bar team is so successful. "I can pass on the trust I receive from the management to my employees. And that closes the circle."