Meet the Bartender
A bartender from far away––Arethusa al tavolo
Photo by Douglas Foulke
He is called Hun, Hunter, or Brian and he is head bartender at Arethusa al tavolo. “I was born in Malaysia and my real name is Kin Hun Khoo. People call me Hun or Hunter. Then I decided to call myself Brian, thinking that was easier to remember.” He came to this country when he was 14 to find his mother, who had deserted him when he was eight years old. “She was living in Coney Island and had a new family,” he explains. “I found work in Chinatown but I couldn’t speak any English.” So how did he learn to speak as well as he does?
“Watching ‘CSI’ on television!” he exclaims. “It had Chinese subtitles, so I would read and listen and eventually I taught myself English. It was difficult but you need to speak the language to get ahead.”
While working in a Malaysian restaurant he started doing cooking and wine demonstrations on local television. “The manager of al tavolo came to the restaurant one day when I was running a wine dinner,” says Hun. “We became friends and later he offered me a job.
“You learn a lot about people being behind the bar. You see different slices of life. People like to talk and I just listen to their stories.”
He loves his work but occasionally he takes time off for himself. “I like to go fishing; it’s my passion. I can just be by myself. You wait and you wait and then one day you bring something home. It’s a lot like life.”
Arethusa al tavolo
828 Bantam Rd.