In the late 90’s Casco Viejo (‘Old Town’ in English), Panama City became a world heritage site by Unesco. Once overrun by gangs and squatters, this little pocket in the city has come full circle providing spaces for retail, restaurants, and bars. Today, Casco Viejo’s cobble stone streets are home to some of the best nightlife hubs in Central America.
At the heart of Casco Viejo’s nightlife lies Tantalo Hotel, serving up food, drinks, and entertainment with a focus on the arts. Tantalo rotates its art with a new show and opening once a month. Alongside the array of colorful pieces, hints of Panama’s ecological surroundings grace the space with plants and vegetation thoughtfully placed throughout the restaurant. Chef Pierre, says of Tantalo ‘I want to please the five senses of each client that comes here. For visual elements, we have art. For taste we have food or drinks. For touch, the AC has to be the right temperature. Hearing, the right music and volume. Smell… well it has to smell good!’
Tantalo Hotel employees nearly 100 people form the local community. With a diverse staff, Chef Pierre describes the working environment as a group entity, but with cliques amongst it’s sizable staff. Back kitchen staff with back kitchen staff, servers with servers, bar backs with bar backs, etc.
‘Everyday for our staff we devote half an hour for our lunch staff and half an hour for our dinner staff.’
The go-to plate for staff meal is beans, rice, fried plantains, and stir fried vegetables with a meat or poultry option. The staff meal is also on the menu as it is a staple in Panamanian cuisine. ‘Rice is served everyday in Panama. If you take the rice out, the employees will complain.’
‘I sit down and joke around with my employees. We also sing and have cake for birthdays. It’s a fun environment, and we try to keep it that way.’
White rice, red beans, meatloaf and sweet fried platain
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