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Profile of The Month: Ghalim Pati of PATI Braga

Ghalim Pati

Lately, there has been a significant emergence of new Cocktail Bars in Bandung. They each come with their own distinctive features. Amongst these bars, the name Ghalim Pati stands out, the owner of Pati, Riri, & Dipso. It turns out that his career journey has been quite long, eventually leading him to be recognized as one of the best bartenders in Bandung and an F&B entrepreneur. In this interview, we have a conversation with Ghalim Pati to learn his story.

Q: Before we delve further into our conversation, could you please share a bit about your background? 
A: I was actually born and raised in Sumbawa. I moved to Bandung during high school because, at that time, my parents considered me too rebellious. Coincidentally, my grandfather was a lecturer at STPDN (State Administration College), can you imagine how strict he was? In fact, my parents initially wanted me to enroll in STPDN as well. However, due to various reasons, fate eventually led me to join NHI, in the Food and Beverage (FnB) Management program.

Q: So your introduction to FnB happened while you were still in college? 
A: You could say that, but to be honest, I was surprised and felt like I had chosen the wrong major during my studies. In my first year there, I was learning to carry many plates and trays. I thought, 'This isn't for me,' so I postponed my studies for two years and almost transferred to another campus. But during that time, I saw my friends doing bottle juggling, and it was a trending skill at that time. I eventually decided to return to school, practiced juggling, and even participated in some competitions representing my campus. I also performed at various events such as New Year's parties, weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays.

Q: So, you sort of found enjoyment in doing juggling? 
A: Yes, that's correct. In 2008, I started taking flair seriously. I competed and won a few times. I joined competitions mainly for the fun of it. It was my excuse to travel and have a good time. I traveled to Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, and Semarang, competing all over the place. Unknowingly, it started to shape me as well. I'm not the type of person who likes to read, but through observing and listening, some knowledge began to take root.

Ghalim Pati

Ghalim Pati creating a cocktail

Q: Do you have a most memorable competition experience? 
A: I can't remember the year, but I recall it was my last competition sponsored by a well-known product. Coincidentally, it was in Bandung, and I won first place. The interesting part was that besides the cash and other prizes, they offered me a job as a reward. That's when I started working as the head bartender.

Q: So when did you truly delve into cocktails? 
A: Certainly, my knowledge and skills in cocktails continued to grow while working as the Head Bartender over time. I also practiced a lot with my brother, Iman Liesmulla. I truly delved into cocktails when I started working at Javana Bistro.

Q: So, how did you finally decide to open your own bar? 
A: To make a long story short, I moved to Bali and worked as a consultant while also working in a fine dining restaurant. I started to explore and came across one of Indonesia's top chefs named Mandif Warokka. Not only did I learn about ingredients, taste, and flavor from him, but I also learned how to merge different ingredients, all from him. Meeting him opened up new horizons for me. After opening a bar with him in Seminyak, I moved to his restaurant in Ubud, named Blanco Par Mandif. The setup of my bar resembled a chef's table. Actually, the bar was located side by side with the chef's corner, and it only had eight seats because it was a fine dining restaurant. So, that's where the idea of opening my own bar began. 

Pati Braga

Pati Braga, Ghalim's first cocktail bar

Q: So, what was the first bar that you owned? 
A: The first bar I owned was called "Pati."

Q: Why did you decide to create that? 
A: Well, it was during the pandemic in 2021. My college friends who were running their own businesses at that time weren't as affected by the pandemic. Back in 2011, my friends and I shared a dream of owning our own bar. I was working at a bar, and they were regular customers. One day, my friend Johan Andreas Hutabarat expressed his support, saying, "Let's do it," and he brought our old friend Deriana Nugraha as well to join. He also brought in Krisna Chandra, who was Johan's partner. Thus, the four of us embarked on this venture together. We searched for a location and finally found one in Braga, thanks to our connections. It was tiny, only 24 square meters, but it had its charm. If you consider starting from scratch, the place would have cost billions in renovations. The stones were massive, and there was a kitchen above, but you'd never hear any noise downstairs.

Q: Was the initial concept like that, or not? 
A: Actually, the initial goal wasn't specifically for a speakeasy bar. It was just for a cocktail bar, a bar with one of its strongest points being proper cocktails. Although I had plans to sell beer and wine as well, the space was too small for a broader market. The seating capacity was only 12. But surprisingly, we received positive feedback, both from guests and from people in the business. So, it became a valuable addition to my portfolio, especially for me. When Pati had been open for about a year, many people approached me for collaborations. With not that much capital, I was able to build a strong portfolio. It created even more connections, and Pati still serves as a place where my friends can enjoy themselves rather than me spending money elsewhere.

Q: Has the progress in these two years exceeded your expectations? 
A: Actually, it has exceeded my expectations. However, there were many opportunities that I didn't pursue. Many people approached me to open bars. Eventually, I opened my second speakeasy bar after Pati, but this time with some other friends. They were opening a bar near my house in Sindangsirna. It was more of a partnership there. The reason I took it on was because in terms of ambiance, location, and the character of the cocktails I create, it's quite different. 


Riri Bar

Q: So, Riri at Vasaka is your fourth venture, right? 
A: Yes, that's right. Besides that, we also recently merged with Barchipelago in Kemang. It's in the same building as Kopi Lima Detik. DJ Riri Mestika happens to be the owner. We just merged, very recently, along with this one. So, it's in progress, and DJ Riri is also involved here.

Q: So that's why it's called Riri? 
A: Oh, no. "Riri" comes from Zara's name. Her nickname at home is Riri. Pati, on the other hand, comes from my last name. "Riri" also has a nice meaning, like gems, bringing happiness, luxury, jewel – that's what "Riri" means.

Q: From all the conversations earlier, can I conclude that connections have a significant impact on your life?
A: That's right. The main thing is that when we went to college, we got a diploma and we got connections, you know. Those connections are important. I still feel the impact of those connections. As for the knowledge, it really depends on the person. Some of it you get from reading and learning on your own.

Ghalim Pati 2

Ghalim Pati

Q: And then, how do you see the cocktail scene in Bandung right now?
A: On the one hand, I'm happy to see more new places emerging. Speakeasy bars in Bandung, like Heartbreak Hotel and Biru, are great. One of my favorites, aside from my own, is Peels. Their concept is clear, and their classic cocktails are great. Lucky and Apin, the owners, have great skills. They used to be guests at Gloomy Sunday. It's one of my favorite bars, maybe even in all of Indonesia. The more people there are, the broader the process of introducing cocktails becomes. However, the problem we're currently facing is that the guests are pretty much the same, so the slice of the pie is divided among us. This creates a bit of a challenge in terms of exposure because we're speakeasy bars, our venues are small, and the exposure is somewhat limited. So, it's quite random, and sometimes our guests don't align with our target market. That's a challenge. In this social media-driven era, word-of-mouth marketing has been our primary strategy so far.

Q: So, what are your plans for Pati in the coming years? What are your goals? 
A: It's actually the other way around. People out there usually start with safe places like restaurants or clubs and then create a speakeasy. We did the opposite. For the future, in Bandung, our plan is that Riri will be the last speakeasy. If we want to open something else in Bandung, it might be more of a party concept, like a club. As for speakeasies, if we decide to create more, it might be outside of Bandung, maybe in Jakarta, Bali, or Semarang.

Q: That’s great, Thank you for the time, Ghalim
A: Thank you. That was a pleasure!

Jl. Braga No.43
P: 0812-9494-1787