Pete Girgis

Pete Girgis

Co-founder and President | Qui Tequila

Industry
Spirits

Location
New York, NY


Pete Girgis: How This Co-Founder of a $400-Per-Bottle Tequila Brand Is Transitioning Sales from Restaurants Like Nobu to Online—and Supporting Restaurant Workers in the Meantime

Former lawyer Pete Girgis and his partners launched Qui in 2013 with a focus on making beautifully aged tequilas accessible. The company launched with Qui Platinum, the first crystal-clear extra añejo tequila to market priced at $59. The tequila can be found in Los Angeles at restaurants like Nobu Malibu, Chateau Marmont, The London West Hollywood, and the Montage Beverly Hills, and in New York at Il Mulino, The Grill, Nobu, Lure, The Mark, Avra, and the Bowery Hotel. They recently launched Qui Rare ($399), which is a 12-year, one-of-a-kind limited edition (with only 2,000 bottles) extra añejo that has been matured in hand-selected Tennessee Whiskey and French Bordeaux barrels for 12 years, offering aromas of wood, tobacco, caramel, and vanilla. A donation of $50 from the sale of each bottle will go to the National Restaurant Association Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.

What are your biggest business concerns surrounding COVID-19? 

We work closely with bars and restaurants as they serve our product in markets from New York, New Jersey, Texas, and California. These accounts have truly helped build our brand over the last eight years. We are concerned about how and when the economy will return to normalcy and when our friends and partners in hospitality will be able to reopen. We are also worried about what damage will have been done by the time things return to “normal” whatever that may mean in the future.  

What is your current business strategy for dealing with the situation? 

Our strategy is two-fold:  

First, support our partners who have been by our side. With the launch of our newest product QUI Rare, we are also trying to play a small role in helping displaced restaurant employees as much as possible by donating $50 to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund for every bottle sold.  

Qui tequila.

Second, we are focusing on digital to build the brand awareness of QUI tequila.  It has been a great channel for us to educate consumers about what makes an extra-añejo tequila so special (as it has been aged for over three years to give it tremendous flavor and character). Along with the value proposition behind each bottle of QUI as most extra añejo tequilas are several hundred dollars a bottle.  

How do you think things will look in your industry a year from now?

We are an incredibly resilient country I’m hopeful that a year from now, bars and restaurants will be back up and running, and the consumer will be back better than ever. It is our sense that there is a lot of pent up demand especially in major cosmopolitan markets where the consumer is used to dining out several times a week.  

The new Qui Rare tequila.

New habits are also forming. People who had never purchased a bottle of alcohol online are now beginning to do soTraditionally spirit brands were built at bars and restaurants, and retail sales followed. Now, these rules are changing a bit. The customer is more educated than ever. Digital presence, customer reviews, and an exceptional customer experience in addition to the traditional channels will help define the successful craft brands of the future.  

What have you learned from other difficult times in the past? 

I’ve learned that persistence is key. 

It’s not necessarily about hitting a homerun out of the gate, but slow and steady wins the race.

This year will be less about opening new markets, and more focus on continuing to build the brand within our existing markets, supporting our retailers, and an enhanced digital strategy 

Safe–and entertained–at Home: What business leaders are doing with their downtime

 

Morning routine?
I normally start my day with a bulletproof coffee followed by jumping rope and hitting a heavy bag. Fifteen minutes of meditation also helps clear my mind and set my priorities for the day.

Currently binging?
I’m loving Money Heist on Netflix. 

Currently reading?
Rocketfuel and Leaders Eat Last. 

What are you doing to spend quality time with those you’re sheltering with?
I’m currently in New Jersey with my folks. So, playing chess with my dad, and learning some family recipes.

What are you doing to stay healthy mentally and physically?
Focusing on the things I’m grateful for and drinking lots of aged tequila. 


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