Restaurant Unstoppable with Eric Cacciatore

Leo Holtzman Restaurant Unstoppable Podcast

Leo Holtzman is the co-founder of SoCal Cantina and founder of Cocktail Conjuring, Inc.

Leo first started tending bar in Orlando when he attended UCF triple majoring in Theatre, Psychology and Hospitality Management. Bartending was just a means to an end until he could make it as a full-time close-up magician. Upon graduation he moved back to Miami and worked as a magician/performer for various events and companies while working a few nights a week at Cadillac Ranch. Eventually he became the bar manager of Cadillac Ranch while the performing season was in a lull. In 2012, he wanted to take his talents to Las Vegas and saw that his best opportunity was to work for the new hip and chic hotel, SLS South Beach. SLS had/has plans for a large scale resort in Las Vegas set to open Labor Day weekend 2014. He landed an entry level job at SLS as a bar back at Katsuya’s Dragon Lounge mixology bar. This was his first introduction to the world of “mixology”. He learned everything from the bottom and within 6 months was the head bartender/manager and was in charge of all normal duties of the bar program including cocktail design. During his time with SLS he also took on consulting and worked various events including the Lucky Rice festival and Bacardi Legacy competition. His talents did not go unnoticed and in 2014 he partnered with Patrick Gleber, owner of Tobacco Road, to open Cocktail Collection and put his magic career on hold. Cocktail Collection was the hottest bar in Miami, featuring a rotating original cocktail menu and local artist show cases. Cocktail Collection has received numerous accolades from various mediate outlets and critics including the only 5 star cocktail lounge/bar rating on YELP in the greater Miami area. It was loved by guests and critics, a rare feat in today’s hospitality market. Then without notice Tobacco Road and Cocktail Collection were demolished to make way for the new high rises of Brickell. But Leo kept on bringing his cocktails and hospitality though Cocktail Conjuring events, pop-ups and consulting for select venues including Norwegian Cruise Line and The Palms Hotel and Spa. Then out of nowhere AJ Billapando contacted Leo with an idea. AJ had remembered one night at Cocktail Collection where he had the best cocktails of his life and a surreal experience of Leo performing close-up magic for a group of him and his friends. The cocktails and experience was unpretentious yet sophisticated- something he wanted SoCal to embody. After a brief call, the two met and came up with SoCal Cantina over night. They opened a week later in Brickell and were a wild success. SoCal Cantina offers out-of-this-world margaritas as well as some classics from Cocktail Collection menu (smoke fashion anyone??). The drinks pair perfectly with quite simply the best tacos you will ever have.

Check out SweetProcess as mentioned in today's episode.

Check out Jolt as mentioned in today's episode.

Show notes…

Calls to ACTION!!!

Favorite success quote or mantra:

  • "Do it now."

In today's episode with Leo Holtzman we will discuss:

  • Being a magician
  • Bartending
  • Checklists
  • Managers
  • Finding an investor
  • Finding an investor in a customer
  • Popups
  • Renting a space within a space
  • Developing your personal brand
  • Follow trends and create spaces for them
  • Collecting emails
  • Enforcing SOP
  • Contracts
  • Enthusiasm trickles down
  • Game-ify business
  • Becoming a mentor

Today's sponsor:

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Knowledge bombs

  1. Which "it factor" habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
    • Perseverance
  2. What is your biggest weakness?
    • Trust
  3. What's one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
    • Future plans
  4. What's a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
    • Hiring and making things more efficient with less staff
  5. Share one code of conduct or behavior you teach your team.
    • Accountability
  6. What is one uncommon standard of service you teach your staff?
    • Treat people like they are a guest in your home, not in your restaurant
  7. What's one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?
  8. Name one service you've hired.
  9. What's one piece of technology you've adopted within your restaurant walls and how has it influence operations?
  10. If you got the news that you'd be leaving this world tomorrow and all memories of you, your work, and your restaurants would be lost with your departure with the exception of 3 pieces of wisdom you could leave behind for the good of humanity, what would they be?
    • Do it now
    • Be what you know you can be
    • Try to be empathetic to everyone

Contact info:


personal: @cocktail_conjuror

business: @socal_cantina


SoCal Cantina website

Thanks for listening!

Thanks so much for joining today! Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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Huge thanks to Leo Holtzman for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!


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Direct download: 794_Leo_Holtzman_PODCAST_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT