Women from El Copitas to launch Tagliatella Caffe – Russia’s first all-female-run bar in St Petersburg

Mark Sansom - 09/02/2021

The team behind Italian-style Tagliatella Caffe is gearing up for launch in Russia’s second city, St Petersburg. 50 Best meets the new venue’s bar manager, Alyona Kovalchuk, who outlines her plans for a bar that will highlight the aperitivo tradition and challenge gender stereotypes in the process

Next month will see a seminal moment in Russian hospitality. Eight women from across Russia and the Ukraine will launch Tagliatella Caffe in St Petersburg on 8th March as the first bar in the country to be staffed entirely by females.

The concept has been developed by the team behind El Copitas, the city’s agave spirit-focussed bar that ranked No.27 in The World’s 50 Best Bars 2020, sponsored by Perrier. As its name suggests, Tagliatella Caffe will focus on Italian traditions of drinking and dining, with a sizable aperitivo programme and a food menu focussing on cicchetti bites and antipasti plates.

Tagliatella Caffe, St Petersburg's Italian-leaning hot new bar

When 50 Best speaks to Alyona Kovalchuk, Tagliatella Caffe bar manager, she and her team are in the thick of fine-tuning menu and service structures ahead of launch. “Italian culture is so important to St Petersburg,” she says. “The city was built by Italians. We have buildings designed by Italian architects and engineers and you feel the spirit all over the city. There are a lot of Italian restaurants, but people are not really familiar with aperitivo culture – we have so much to tell them about this amazing tradition.”

In terms of the menu, it will be a relatively truncated cocktail list of 12 drinks. “We will focus on famous Italian cocktails, with five twists using seasonal Russian ingredients, which will change every month,” says Kovalchuk. “We will also have a section dedicated to cocktails by female bartenders from all around the world.”

Alyona Kovalchuk, Tasha Pinchukova, Julia Straus, Tanya Volkova, Katerina Stren, Sophia Lapina and Elya Zvereva, the women behind Tagliatella Caffe

The seven women working with Kovalchuk – Tasha Pinchukova, Julia Straus, Tanya Volkova, Elya Zvereva, Katerina Durneva on the bar and Katerina Stren and Sophia Lapina back of house –  will be trained and experienced in all aspects of the operation. “We will change our jobs every day,” explains Kovalchuk. “One day I will be hosting, while someone else will be putting the snacks together, another girl will be making drinks and someone else will be entertaining the guests. The next day the roles will revolve.”

The team are looking to create a paradigm shift in Russian hospitality culture. “We see this as our chance to give a great example to all ladies working behind the bar in the Russian-speaking community to show that anything is possible,” says Kovalchuk. “We want to prove to all the girls who have been repressed, rejected, mocked, harassed and abused that they can make their dreams come true. I have heard many awful stories about this kind of behaviour and I am more than happy to do my part to try to stop it.”

The bespoke curving marble-topped counter at the St Petersburg bar

While the team’s primary aim is to create a world-class cocktail bar that showcases the Italian aperitvo tradition, they will also challenge gender stereotypes. “I don’t see any difference between men and women behind the bar,” says Kovalchuk. “Both can be hard working, responsible, strong and passionate or they equally could not: it all depends on the person. It’s my wish that no one in this region will face prejudice about their gender and they are simply given the opportunity to show their skills.”

50/50 is the new 50’ is a content series created by 50 Best and supported by S.Pellegrino with the shared aim of promoting equality, inclusivity and balance in the hospitality sector and beyond.