Diego Barbieri is living the American dream. He came from Brazil nearly one decade ago, worked hard, and is now co-owner and manager of the Arlington Tavern on Victoria Street.
An incredibly charming man, Diego excels at customer service, and you can never go wrong following his recommendations. It’s rewarding to see that the Tavern, which recently added a killer patio overlooking the Public Market and the Riviera, is hitting its stride in one of our town’s more happening neighborhoods.
He took time away from taking care of business to answer the Proust questionnaire.
Who do you most admire?
My brother, Andre Barbieri. Three years ago he had a freakish snowboarding accident that resulted in his left leg being amputated above the knee. It didn’t slow him down, and he kept on surfing and picked up triathlon. Now he is a sponsored athlete who accomplished very big feats, and he’s well on his way to participate of the 2016 Paralympics.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Sounds a little corny, but I feel like my greatest achievement is actually living the American dream. I arrived almost 10 years ago with $300 in my pocket, little idea of where to go and what to do, and a three-month visitor visa. With the help of very good friends and my family, I was able to establish myself in the community, become a permanent resident, and open Arlington Tavern along with four friends.
What is your greatest fear?
If you’d asked me that a couple years ago, the answer would be simple: Deportation! Since now I have my fantastic green card, it’s a toss-up between growing old, sharks, snakes, and the dreadful Amazonian willy fish.
What do you most like about your job?
I’ve been working in the hospitality industry for a while now and feel very comfortable doing what I do. I’m very confident with my food, beer, and wine recommendations, and therefore I’m able to stoke people out. That’s what I like the most about my job: stoking people out!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
In a perfect world, myself and everyone that I love is in good health and with money in their pocket, I have the day off and the surf is up, my fiancée and my family are around, and I have a lot of cool projects lined up.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I move my hands quite a bit while talking and tend to use funny sounds instead of words.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Oh no, there are so many. First of all, I’d like to be able to do all the sports that I do at a professional level. Then I’d like to be a fantastic mechanic who can fix anything from cars to space aircraft. I’d like to be able to do crazy carpentry stuff, fly helicopters, be a ninja. I could go on for hours on this topic: I better stop myself now.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My toys. I love surfing, sports shooting, fishing, and projects. All these things demand expensive gadgets.
What is your current state of mind?
Mildly hungover but very happy!
What is the quality you most like in people?
Being humble no matter what.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
What do you most value in friends?
Sense of humor, honesty, and being able to give support when necessary.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Fantastic. Cool party. Wham jam. Oh schnitzel!
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Make my bones and ligaments thicker and injury-proof. The sport that I train for the most is Brazilian jujitsu, and I get injured way too often.
Where would you most like to live?
I’ve lived in really awesome places around the globe and decided to settle in Santa Barbara. There are still many places I wanna go, but there’s nowhere else where I’d rather live.
What is your most treasured possession?
My bed. My fiancée, Katie, and I invested a good chunk of money in a very comfy king size bed a couple years ago, and our lives were forever changed. That thing is heaven!
Who makes you laugh the most?
I laugh the most when my brother and I reminisce about all the things we used to do in high school and young adult life.
What is your motto?
Stay humble, stay healthy, move forward, and keep on fighting for what you really want.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
All great leaders who stood their ground and fought the good fight for what they thought was right, like Nelson Mandela and Tiradentes.
On what occasion do you lie?
Well, I’m not going to get into specifics, because I don’t wanna get caught, but let’s say I do it when I feel it is for the benefit of all parties. Plus I don’t really see it as lying as much as “creating truths.”