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Celebrating 40 Years with Cafe Pacifico

It was actually a magnificent golden revolver...... 40 years of Café Pacifico

Celebrating four years is good going in hospitality but Café Pacifico are blowing the candles out on 40 years of serving up the best that Mexico has to offer.

In honour of this achievement, we caught up with co-owner Carlos Londono to learn more……

Please give us a quick history of Café Pacifico

I only joined the business a mere 23 years ago 😊, Café Pacifico was set up by an iconic figure in the drinks industry named Tomas Estes with his partner at the time Jenny Estes.

Tom grew up in California next to a Mexican neighbour and fell in love with the country, travelling over the border many times and enjoying tequila at a young age in Tijuana. In his late 20’s he went to Amsterdam and set up the first Café Pacifico before setting up in Paris, London in 1982 and many more European cities.

We believe Café Pacifico is the first UK Mexican bar and restaurant and nobody has ever contested us on this. What Tom found really interesting was that so many different cultures would come together to promote the beauty of Mexico through the business.

23 years is a long time in one company, what kept you here for so many years?

Tom really gave me the passion for what we do, a love for hospitality and for Mexican culture. I was destined to be a lawyer (that’s the family tradition back in Colombia) but luckily my mother gave me her blessing to pursue whatever made me happy, I came to London originally with my family to escape the violence during the 1980’s in Colombia.

I personally believe you should enjoy every day in what you do and fortunately Café Pacifico has provided me with this and so I never wanted to leave.

And what do you think is the secret to the business’ longevity?

I think we have always been very honest about what we are and aren’t. Although we are in Covent Garden we keep our prices fair and focus on long term sustainable relationships with our customers, not just overcharging tourists here for a few days.

In the industry you are considered the authority on Tequila and have some official accreditations to back this up, can you tell me a bit more…..

Yes, we are the only business in the UK to be awarded the honour of Distinctivo T, a commendation awarded by the Tequila Regulatory Council for educating people to a high standard on the Tequila and agave industry. The founder Tomas Estes was officially the European Ambassador for Tequila and we love introducing people to the category.

After introducing so many people to agave spirits what is the most common or interesting feedback from guests?

We can see that people admire the labour and effort that goes into making tequila once they understand the processes and the category as a whole seems to have a certain mystique and I would say sexiness to it. It’s a very emotive category and once people are in they become very evangelical about Tequila and share their knowledge with others, a lot of customers will return with new friends to share the experience.

After 23 years you must have some stand out memories, any you can share?

A big standout for me was one that you joined us for which was the Tequila conference on a little island in the South of France that brought all the biggest players of the industry together to talk as a community about the challenges and opportunities the category faced, that was a real achievement to put together.

Over in Mexico I can’t share all of them but a real memory was drinking tequilas late at night in Tequila Town of a street vendor. This lady had 2 sons, one very helpful and one very lazy. We tipped the helpful one and then the other boy came over asking us for his money and we explained he hadn’t been helping his mother and would get nothing. He ended up doing some work and we tipped him but we noticed a big blacked out car down the street watching us. These large men got out and asked us why we were giving a young child money thinking the worst and wanted to know who we were. Tomas announced himself as the Ambassador of Tequila and one of the men replied “well I’m the Mayor of Tequila” which turned out to be true and he invited us for drinks. 2 am in the morning he insists we come back to his house, wakes up and introduces us to the whole family and then calls for Juanita. We were expecting another family member but it was actually a magnificent golden revolver!

We stayed in touch for over a year!

Can you recommend a simple tequila drink to enjoy at home?

For me the easiest and one of the nicest is a blanco tequila, ginger ale, squeeze of lime and a couple of drops of Angostura bitters, they call it Papi’s late-night drink at Pacifico as I like to enjoy one at the end of shift and my nickname is Papi.

How are you celebrating 40 years of Café Pacifico?

We started with a big celebration on the 17th February which is coincidentally my own birthday and I think the stars were aligned that I ended up owning a business conceived on the same day as myself.

We are doing a party the last week of every month normally on a Friday evening working with a different brand each month and finishing with a celebration at the distillery of Fortaleza Tequila in Mexico in September, we have room for 140 people so reserve your spot 😊

Any final thoughts….

I love Café Pacifico for one thing. Tom, my mother and father have all taught me that to always treat all people exactly the same. The two current owners all started in the business at the bottom over two decades ago and shows how treating people the right way can build a successful business.

To celebrate the life of Tomas Estes we have set up a foundation “Corazon De Agave Tomas Estes” to raise money for different causes. We have previously raised funds for CRISIS, SHELTER and charities in Mexico and we formally announced the foundation at Cocktails In The City July 2021 so you are part of the story. Currently, Corazon De Agave Tomas Estes is raising funds for Ukrainian orphans.

Café Pacifico will be educating and sharing their love for agave again at Cocktails In the City on July 07 – 09.