By Christy Simo
Andrés Loaiza has a strong belief system that guides his work as general manager and head sommelier at the award-winning Aria in Buckhead.
“Our role at Aria is defined not only by what we do but most importantly by what we believe,” he says. “We believe in excellence. We believe in consistency. We believe in people and gracious hospitality. We believe that when people, hospitality and delicious food and wine meet, we have the opportunity to create wonderful experiences and unforgettable memories.”
Those unforgettable experiences and memories are what people return to Aria for again and again. It also motivates the team to do their best.
“Every single interaction with our guests is important. It is an opportunity to connect with them,” he says. “To achieve that, we must always be mindful, to be generous in spirit, to be positive and authentic.
“That daily challenge is part of the thrill,” he adds. “It is an opportunity for us to pursue excellence.”
A native of Columbia, he’s spent the past 20 years working in the restaurant industry. Over the past few decades, he’s found that he has a natural affinity for people. That, he says “has allowed me to discover that connecting with people, taking care of others and making a difference, even if small, in someone’s life is what gives me joy, purpose and fulfillment.”
He’s also developed a respect for fine wine and is currently enrolled in the Core Master Sommelier Program.
He encourages the staff to think of themselves as a family, to collaborate as a team, and to view Aria’s success as their own. It’s a management style that’s reflective of his youth, when, as part of a large family, he was often the coordinator of family events.
“I see the Manager of the Year award as a team award; an acknowledgement of what our team has accomplished,” he says. “We have grown professionally and learned how to provide an experience that is informed, inspired, nurturing and caring.”