Venue of the Month: INCA London

We visit the iconic Latin American inspired venue where guests can expect a unique and unparalleled dining experience. Nathanael Dadoun, Managing Partner of INCA London, tells us more about the story behind the exceptional bar and restaurant, revealing what sets the venue apart from competitors. 

Nathanael, please tell us about INCA London.

INCA was born out of the desire to satisfy a large gap in the hospitality industry, where people could dine, dance and be wowed by professional storytelling performances. During COVID, I travelled across Latin America, which I fell in love with. My partner being from the region, I had the opportunity to discover a lot of different places with a local eye-perspective and wanted to share what I experienced; what I saw, smelt, tasted, felt and lived! 

Latino heritage is an intrinsic part of INCA’s identity, and we have made sure to give that authentic feeling across the four key elements of our venue: design, shows, food and drink offerings. The energy, vibrancy and costumes in our shows are designed to reflect the warmth I felt from people in the continent. On the other hand, our culinary experience is focused around the shareability of dishes. Our menu has been designed to give the customer all the ingredients for a real Latin American experience, with colours, flavours, heat and texture. Finally, our cocktail menu also gets its inspiration from the rich and diverse aromas of the area. We have curated a journey of innovation, using age old Inca hieroglyphs, relating back to their original meaning to reflect on the taste and raw nature of our cocktails. 

Influenced by the Inca tribe and its way of life, we take inspiration from their mythology. The Incas visualised the sun, Inti, as a man and his wife, Mama Quilla, as the moon. Inti controlled all that the sun implies; warmth, light and sunshine necessary for agriculture. Having the power over all food, it was by his will that crops grew and animals thrived. He was vital to the Incan existence, the bringer of life. We loved that analogy. As a group, we wanted to create a brand that would instil joy, togetherness and life in all who step inside the Inca world. Therefore, we developed a brand around the sun and the moon, which is included in our logo. 

Talk us through your new launch, Eclipse.

Our new campaign, Eclipse, is another example of our sun and moon influence. Our venue having a late-night license, we thought it was a nice way to bring to life the fact that a customer could come to INCA for dinner during the evening, and only leave the premises in the morning when the sun is already out. As part of the campaign, we have created sun and moon-inspired special dishes, cocktails and shows. Our Sun Wagyu Tomahawk is prepared with gold leaf and flambeed at your table to represent the sun colours and heat. Conversely, our Moon Ceviche platter is delivered with its own moon and is topped with dry ice to represent the cold and white feel of the moon. 

For the shows, our production team has utilised an array of innovative elements to provide an unforgettable experience for guests, including: exquisite gold and silver costumes, using real fire in performances and utilising lights, each embodying the theme of the sun and the moon.

What would you say have been the key elements to the venue’s success?

I believe that what makes INCA stand out from its competitors is one of the key elements to the venue’s success – our incredible team. At INCA, the strength of the team is each individual member, while the strength of each member is the team. As young restauranteurs, we wanted a team that fits with our modern, innovative and out-of-the-box mentality. A lot of our staff have actually been with us since INCA opened and, I am sure that if you were to ask them, they would tell you that INCA is as much theirs as it is ours. That sense of belonging and loyalty to each other is what makes us so different. People care. As leaders, we care for our people, we value them and show them the recognition they deserve. As a result, they give us back this care in everything they do. Together, we find ways to make things work, even if sometimes challenges seem too hard to overcome.  It is all about the team and the vision you create with them. Discussing food and drinks menus development, marketing ideas, enhancing customer experience and hearing their feedback; it all comes back to the people you surround yourself with. 

How do you stay current and up-to-date with trends in an ever-changing industry?

It is always very challenging to stay current in this ever-changing hospitality industry. I think that we manage to do so by always revisiting our foundations – developing new dishes, cocktails, shows and new marketing content. We are also a very active team; most of us travel often, giving us the opportunity to try various restaurants and bars globally. We constantly analyse the competitive market, locally and internationally, gaining inspiration from personal experiences in other venues and twisting them the INCA way.

What advice would you give to an up-and-coming bar?

As a young restauranteur, I still have a lot to learn, but if I were to share two points that have helped me so far, they would be as follows. Firstly, believe in your vision and the ethos of what you are trying to achieve. INCA was a big challenge to innovate the London hospitality scene – challenges were going to be part of the process. Having faith in our vision definitely helped in solving issues we faced.

I would also advise bars to focus on solutions, not problems. Businesses will always face problems; sticking to them will not help solve them.

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