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 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 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. 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.