Adam HowardAdam Howard
Corporate Chef
Adam Howard is the Corporate Chef for Mike Isabella Concepts (MIC). Prior to joining the team at MIC, Howard was the chef de cuisine at Range and Aggio, and the executive sous chef at Jaleo in Washington, D.C. Before moving to D.C., chef Howard was the owner and chef of Street Foods LLC, a food truck in Charleston, SC. He has also cooked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hudson Yards Catering, and Beacon Restaurant in New York, NY. Adam has an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and brings over a decade of experience to the MIC kitchens.

 

kapnos_nick_pagonis-399x600Nick Pagonis
Director/Partner
Prior to opening Kapnos and Kapnos Taverna, Pagonis served as General Manager of Graffiato. An original member of the Graffiato team, Nick helped open the restaurant as a manager in June, 2011. Prior to joining Graffiato, He worked at Jose Andres’ Jaleo in Washington, D.C. Nick started in the restaurant industry as a child working in his father’s Alexandria, VA diner, The Four Seasons, where he did everything from wash dishes and serve to manage.He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Mary Washington.

 

Taha-IsmailTaha Ismail
Beverage Director
Taha Ismail is the beverage director and a partner at Mike Isabella Concepts. Since joining the team in 2011 as the opening bar manager of Graffiato, Ismail has has built and continues to develop diverse bar programs at Arroz, Graffiato, Kapnos and G in Washington, D.C., Kapnos Taverna, Yona and Pepita in Arlington, Va., Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda, Md., and Requin in Fairfax, Va. In addition to overseeing the cocktail experience at all Mike Isabella Concepts restaurants, Ismail is a partner with Isabella at Pepita, a Mexican cantina that also brings in tiki influence.
 
In 2017, Ismail won the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s RAMMY Award for Cocktail Program of the Year for his work at Kapnos. His Mediterranean-inspired cocktail program was also a finalist for the award in 2016.
 
Previously, Ismail was the head bartender at José Andrés’ Zaytinya for seven years. While in this role, he discovered his passion for developing innovative cocktails and honed his skills in a high-volume environment.
 
Originally from Casablanca, Morocco, Ismail has worked in the restaurant industry for more than 15 years, holding positions from line cook to bartender. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Strayer University, and is BarSmarts certified.

 

Jason SmithJason Smith
Assistant Beverage Director
Jason Smith is the assistant beverage director of Mike Isabella Concepts, where he works closely with beverage director Taha Ismail to build diverse bar programs for all restaurants within the group. Smith most recently served as bar manager of Isabella’s contemporary Southern Spanish and Moroccan restaurant Arroz, and was previously bar manager of his lauded Greek concept Kapnos.
 
Before joining Mike Isabella Concepts, Jason was a part of the opening team at the Royal in Washington, D.C., in addition to working behind the bar at several local Kimpton bars and restaurants. Prior to moving to the D.C. area, Smith worked in San Francisco with Pacific Edge Wine & Spirits, where he managed sales and product education.
 
Raised in Northern California, Smith currently resides in Adams Morgan.