We had the good fortune of connecting with Nathaniel Muñoz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nathaniel, what do you attribute your success to?
The incubation of Bar Avalon and EVE Bottle Shop was focused on neighborhood ideals. Bar Avalon was focused on offering an elevated casual all day environment serving coffee and nibbles during the am hours, flavorful and easy to execute day time lunch items with soulful share plates in the evening that would pair well with any number of the $5-$35 glasses of wine on the list. EVE Bottle Shop was the compliment to the Bar Avalon experience through a Global Hedonistic Wine Selection curated through the classic palate lens but explorative of current trends of natural and skin contact wines. Essentially, our neighbors could depend on a warm, friendly experience any time of day, any day of the week and not spend a fortune. Whether they want to share a bottle with a friend at the bar, entertain relatives that were visiting or have a special dinner with their partner, they could consider Bar Avalon and EVE Bottle Shop as the local independent restaurant and wine shop that would remember their face and make sure they felt taken care of. All of this is still bottled up in the day to day operation of the humble little wine shop that continues today. The restaurant is closed, but I know that I am only able to keep my doors open because of the support of my community and neighborhood. I make sure to remember my regulars and their wine preferences. I also curate the program based on the demand they call for. Lofty ideals of having filled shelves of every kind of wine from every region at a spectrum of pricing and producers are not what’s important right now. Catering to those that support the business matters so much more. This service experience can only be captured in one way, and that is to be available to my customers in person. I have created a safe retail experience that promotes distancing and mask wearing while still being available to chat about their likes, dislikes and even pairing their next meal. Providing this service was the only way I could continue to support my community and in turn win their support.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It seems so silly to say but my whole life has been driven by community. It would be unfair to think that my achievements in my career have been singularly due to any advantage, skill or talent that I possess. I first discovered a fascination with the hospitality industry when I took on a summer part-time job at McDonald’s in order to spend time with my father that worked on the weekends. The staff that had guided me through training and learning about managing a cash register or simply the correct way to mop, gave me a look into the care and support that can be relished within the employment sector. As I have continued in the hospitality industry I have discovered immense stewardship, camaraderie and outreach in developing business acumen, channeling palate development, and encouraging lateral skill certification (i.e. CMS Advanced Sommelier). Without the push and encouragement of colleagues and employers, I would not have been able to take on the illustrious roles of Restaurant Director at a Relais & Chateaux property, or creative and wildly demanding position of Wine Director at The Rose Venice, and especially my current undertaking of Operating Partner of Revelator Bar Avalon and EVE Bottle Shop. As I strive to reopen Bar Avalon and rethink its operation and focus, I will continue to honor the support and mentorship I received through my career by being an ally to my staff and divulging all of my knowledge and insight through cohesive and constructive communication. As much as Revelator Bar Avalon is a space for its community, it is also a dojo for the hospitality industry.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In an ideal Los Angeles, we are rich with entertainment, dining and public spaces. however I would find that if I had the chance to show someone around for a day I would start with coffee at Dayglow on Sunset Blvd before heading to Griffith Park and hiking up to the Hollywood sign. Dayglow does a wonderful job of curating great coffee in a colorful space leaving me filled with warmth and the necessary jolt to get moving. Once the boost takes effect you could be on the incline up the fire road to one of the best views over LA. Getting a sense of perspective and the expansiveness of the city from a major landmark can help set the tone of how diverse the fabric of this city really is. By the time you reach your car you should be hankering for a bite at Burritos La Palma where some of the most flavorful shredded beef and green chile is warmly wrapped in tender flour tortillas. A Coca Cola or Tecate washes it all down nicely. A quick jaunt to the Olympic bridge gives you one of the great views of DTLA and a quiet moment in the middle of one of the largest cities in the country. An afternoon at LACMA taking in the general collection or any one of the special programs is a great way to take in the arts. Once you are filled with artistic inspiration, it’s time for a cocktail. Strolling into the bar at A.O.C. any given afternoon can be one of the most rewarding cocktail experiences in the city. A warm glow of natural light seems to filter through the well ivied patio dining room while any number of the libations fill your glass. I seem to find myself having a negroni or boulevardier every time I warm one of their stools. Once you are feeling loose and ready to mix with some of the most colorful characters in Los Angeles, head over to Dan Tana’s Restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood. Get there right at 5pm and you might be able to grab two stools at the bar. If you’re luck Rafi will be there to give an equal amount of bitter with his disposition and cocktailing ways. The full menu is available at the bar, but all you really need is their Ceaser Salad and Calamari, and of course a side pasta. Marinara, not Bolognese. After crazed and hilarious conversations with the regulars and staff alike, you will be ready for any number of the Comedy Clubs and Nightclubs available to Angelenos. However I would head down to water’s edge in Santa Monica and hang on the cliff above PCH and watch the sun set over Malibu. With the evening set in and the city alive, cruise down to Venice and dive in to any number of the restaurants or bars on Abbot Kinney. I tend to enjoy the Tasting Kitchen for its atmosphere and well balanced cocktails. This gives you a good sense of my day to day in the city and would share it with anyone who came to visit.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Of course the Echo Park community is my biggest supporter. Neighbors and local referrals have been the greatest asset to the operations of our business. A huge shoutout needs to go out to the Los Angeles Sommelier Community also. As a mentor in the group, I have been lucky to be able to support the countless amount of sommeliers in the LA area through their journey in seeking education in this industry, as well as be able to supply the invaluable classic wines that are needed to test their blind tasting skills and exploration.