Francesco Galdi: How to Export the Buddha-Bar’s Success to Your Own Establishment

“If you don’t share what you do, the result makes little sense.” Francesco Galdi, corporate beverage manager of the Buddha-Bar Group, has no doubts about what he has learnt over the last five years working for the giant founded in 1996 by the visionary Raymond Visan. “More than a brand, Buddha-Bar is a way of life,” says Galdi. Born in Turin and with a successful career behind the counter (as well as at the desk), he knows what it means to manage 12 brands, in 46 locations, spread across 31 countries on 4 continents.

The Buddha-Bar Vision

This is Buddha-Bar, a formula with solid roots in bars & restaurants, lounges, beach clubs, hotels and spas around the world, where Galdi has put his 20-year career to good use. If we wanted to condense his philosophy, we could sum it up in 5 lessons, or rather 5 valuable teachings on how to run a cocktail bar and make it successful. The Buddha-Bar way.

Reproducibility of Cocktails

For Francesco Galdi, every day is a challenge in search of new markets, best practices and opportunities to exchange ideas. He’s constantly evaluating his own approach while also involving bar managers and bartenders in the conversation. “The first rule I learnt managing such a large beverage portfolio was the reproducibility of cocktails. Too often, when bartenders are preparing drinks they’re not thinking enough about the end customers. They complicate their lives with preparations that are hard to replicate. For me, the goal of professional bartenders is to create the perfect experience for the guests they’re serving. My beverage strategy is therefore not to think about the single unit, the cocktail I can only make in Paris or Dubai. The trick is to think big, to come up with ways to make sure you can always take what you’ve created with you,” explains the manager.

He gives a practical example. “We made a whisky highball infused with mango stones that are usually thrown away. Every Buddha-Bar in the world offers mango dishes, and there’s never a lack of whisky in our bottle racks. So I put them together to create the perfect base for a cocktail that I can take anywhere. I combined it with a strawberry ketchup, a dash of yuzu to give it some balance, and I topped it all off with tonic water. I’m sure it will be among our most popular cocktails next season. It’s easy on the guest’s palate and simple to reproduce in any of our bars,” says Galdi.

“There are bar venues that are hyper-technological. The Buddha-Bar Beach in Mykonos serves almost 3,000 drinks a night, and it’s a location with all the latest tools. The team is exceptional. But then maybe I open a pop-up 500 kilometres away, and it can’t have the same technical means. So a simple preparation, made with products that can be found anywhere, always works and makes my life easier.”

Accessibility of Flavours Inside and Outside Buddha-Bar


The easy reproducibility of a cocktail goes hand in hand with the guest’s simple enjoyment. “Another thing I’ve learnt from the wonderful Buddha-Bar adventure is summed up in this motto: if you can explain a concept in seven words, it means it works,” says Galdi, who has found a very practical solution.

“Each Buddha-Bar has a kind of interactive recipe book that everyone, from junior barbacks to bar managers, can draw on to replicate each process for making the drink. So the idea is to make things that are simple, fast, effective and, above all, relevant to the brand. In the Mediterranean area, we have 14 Buddha-Bar Beaches and Clubs that have different needs compared to our lounge bars like Dubai, New York or Paris. Here, our guests are mainly casual drinkers who want to try something different but affordable in the summer. For instance, we made a pineapple-flavoured Piña Colada without using the fruit, which was broken down and recreated. The cocktail’s storytelling is fun, it’s very simple to prepare and the flavour wins everyone over. Experience has taught me that out of 100 things, people really like 20, which are among the least complicated cocktails and everyone drinks them. In 2023, we sold 25,000 of our super-easy Little Miss Shanghai, a sort of Tommy’s Margarita made with umami agave, litchi, tequila blanco and reposado and two drops of balsamic vinegar.” That must surely mean something. The numbers don’t lie, and they lead to the top.

Boosting Professionalism

“In my first two years in office, I created a global training platform on spirits, wines and liqueurs as a sort of internal programme to professionalise resources. Before my arrival, with Buddha-Bar being a franchise, the locations worked almost entirely autonomously. My aim was to put the various bar managers in touch, so they would learn from each other and pass on the Buddha-Bar philosophy. This wasn’t only in the interest of sales, but also to empower our professionals. Aligning the venues means we can easily analyse the performance of each of them. Benchmarking them with such a platform lets you assess staff performance, make decisions quickly and apply them just as quickly,” says Galdi.

Team Support


Supporting, sharing and motivating is a must for the corporate beverage manager of the Buddha-Bar Group. “At a certain point in your career, you’re able to give your knowledge to other people. Sharing what you’ve learnt means helping the team to be the best version of itself. Whoever manages to do that creates the ideal place for everyone to grow professionally. It’s a great source of satisfaction for me. The young people who work at Buddha-Bar for a few years take away a lot of experience. I can say that those who have worked with me over the years now hold prestigious positions,” says the manager.

Knowing How to Anticipate Every Situation

If there’s one thing Francesco Galdi doesn’t lack, it’s experience. Over his entire career he can boast a total of 41 bar openings, with more on the way between spring and the end of the year, including Amman in May, Agadir in a couple of months at the most, and Jeddah in November, to be followed by Ryad and Bali.

“I’ve learnt something from each opening. As a corporate manager, I’ve experienced first-hand that nothing ever pans out exactly how I imagined. So, you can’t overlook anything and total preparation is essential. For example, when I create a cocktail list, I divide it into several stages because I already know that some unforeseen event will prevent me from making full use of it. When we did the new launch in Saudi Arabia, the glasses that were supposed to arrive from Central America had to turn back because of a storm that blocked the ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The cargo arrived three months later. That taught me a lesson. I split the menu into two stages, so the team didn’t get stressed either. One of the most important skills in the world of modern management, in marketing but also in hospitality, is the ability to be changeable, capable of finding multiple strategies that can be applied thanks to a sort of mental GPS that’s always switched on. I’m an Italian problem solver.”

The Italian spirit is synonymous with adaptability, and for the manager from Turin, the quintessence is this: “If you know how to move in all directions, you win. Italians are champions at this.” And Galdi leads the way.

Images courtesy of Francesco Galdi