“I was born in an apartment above my dad’s store, on Harlem in Chicago, which is where my restaurant is now. My dad had a couple businesses; a pasta company called Pasta Fresh and Gino’s Italian Imports (deli meats). I didn’t choose this industry, it chose me. I remember playing with my toys in the kitchen! Above the deli was my first house and opening my own restaurant, BarTucci, was a tribute to my family history in that neighborhood. My family still runs Pasta Fresh and has for 40 years. He’s been using organic ingredients before organic was a term. He’s now a part of my restaurant and so the family story continues.” tells MarcAntonio Bartucci, AKA Gino.

There’s something about Gino that seems genuine, polite, and old school. Maybe it’s the name, but I have a hunch it’s even more traditional than that. He’s right here with everyone else, in the now, but his head is far from. And when you get to know Gino, you’ll feel comfortable and secure. This guy does what he says he’ll do, acts as he preaches, and treats others with respect and worth. So why on earth is he in this industry?

“When I started working in hospitality, I found a lot of my happiness in giving people memories and giving them happiness. It was a pseudo happiness. It didn’t matter how I felt or what problems I was dealing with personally, seeing others happy let me live vicariously through them. Over time, the immediate takes control and it becomes a false reality. This can translate into the rest of your life when you’re focused on everyone else and not yourself. I had to learn to be happy by myself…not around anyone else. It allows me to be more genuine. I started in this business loving people, now I can’t stand people. I’ve seen the worse in people and I’m a little jaded. I’m less disappointed because I’m no longer surprised anymore, that’s for sure.” admits Gino. “But don’t get me wrong, I still love this industry. I’ve been in it for 12 years now and it’s amazing to see how you’ve been involved in everyone’s lives throughout time. It is very satisfying to have an immediate affect on someone’s memories. That’s what’s intangible in this business.”

Living vicariously through people in this industry is quite the gamble, because not many of us are actually busting at the seams with happiness and joy. And I’m certain that everything we as human beings do, is selfish. From one kind act to another, we do it to satisfy our innate drive to ‘feel good’ about ourselves. Seeing an immediate affect on someone’s memories is intangible, but it’s also an emotional experience. It feeds the inner monster, who’s crying for attention and love. Others take that a step further and demand recognition for their acts, and that’s where this industry gets messy.

“I think a lot of people get into this business for the wrong reasons. It’s like being a celebrity; people think it’s easy and glamorous. Then you realize you can’t go anywhere in public or do simple human being things without being affected. If you go into this business because you love food, well news flash, I barely get time to eat once a day. If you love to drink, drinking is the worse thing you can do when you run a bar; you can’t get high on your own supply. And yes, you get to meet thousands of people, but the quality isn’t there. The friends you gain in this business, they aren’t real friends.” explains Gino. “I spent the first part of my life worrying about friends and who I was around, but true happiness is in the comfort of not needing anyone and being alone.”

Okay fine, so this guy IS all that he’s cracked up to be and more. Not only is he an old soul, he can cook! And ladies, I did ask him if he’s single – he is. I was going to wait to put that at the end so you don’t all rush off to go hit him up. I hope you all stick around to read the rest, because it gets better. (Actually I’m just telling you it gets better so I have time to text him first.)

I spent the first part of my life worrying about friends and who I was around, but true happiness is in the comfort of not needing anyone and being alone.

Gino Bartucci

But What About Charity?

Let’s talk charity, because this needs to be brought up and I think Gino is the most respectable person to bluntly say this. “Most people don’t even care. I think it’s bullshit and disgusting. Only a portion of the proceeds go to the cause and everyone knows this, so don’t act like you don’t. If you really give a shit, go affect one person’s life. I host 20+ charity events a year and all I can say is, get off your ass and go help someone. It doesn’t need to be advertised or posted on social media or whatever. You don’t need credit or attention from it if it’s sincere.” says Gino.

Well damn, did he just call out the entire restaurant industry? Yup, he sure as shit did. I’m just as guilty of this craze that’s sweeping our industry by storm. You can’t even imagine how many charity events I get invited to, only to leave thinking, now what did that just benefit? I was recently at an event, not going to name names, and just for shits and giggles I walked around to ask people why they were there. No joke, not one person said they were there to support the charity. They ALL thought it was a networking event. Which leads me back to my original statement, that everything we do is for self gain. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are people out there that do want to help others, and go to these events to support the cause and their friends throwing the event. There’s nothing wrong with that, but here’s what is.

Let me tell you how I really think –

Participating in charity events where a ‘portion of the proceeds’ goes to the cause, is a waste of your time. Participating in charity events that you’ve never donated time to, is building a fake pride. And participating in charity events only to show that you participated, is disgusting. Support a good cause by donating real dollars and real time. But don’t expect anything in return, and that includes a photo of you at the event, your name listed in a brochure of sponsors, or a pat on the back.

You know what my goal is? To go eat at BarTucci. With reviews like “The pride of Italian grandmothers everywhere!” from UrbanDaddy, you know this place is legit.

So was the industry everything you thought it was cracked up to be?

“It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. This industry chose me, not the other way around. At 16 I knew more than most hospitality graduates because of my dad; I was working full time for him. I opened my own nightlife promotions company at 17, I opened a private members only club (it was a little shady to say the least – laughing) soon after. From there I was a partner in a couple places and consulted, so by 24 I was a seasoned veteran in this business. I was taught life lessons that most people don’t know until they’re 40 years old. And I’m still here, learning more every day.” says Gino “I’m real old school. I hope that when I look back, all the people that I’ve touched, will be there with me. It’s more important than money or accreditation. My goal is to have a story to tell and it’s one I love to tell.”

You know what my goal is? To go eat at BarTucci. With reviews like “The pride of Italian grandmothers everywhere!” from UrbanDaddy, you know this place is legit. And the best part is, you might get served by Gino Bartucci himself. If it’s one thing I love, it’s a bowl of genuine honesty with a side of originality and a dash of single…. I mean salt!