This is probably going to be the last bar I ever work behind because it doesn’t get any better than this,” said Dean Hakim, bar manager at The St. Laurent, in a rare moment of quiet amid his bustling workweek. Hakim thrives on the energy of the lively Asbury Park destination, a chic hotel, restaurant, and social club concept that debuted in 2022. For the Princeton native, who’s been in the hospitality industry for nearly half his life, he finally found a place that feels like home.

“I got into hospitality as kind of a side job when I went to college,” he explained. “A family friend owned a catering business, so I got a job washing dishes and being a busboy.” As grueling as the restaurant industry can be, Hakim was determined to advance, eventually graduating to barback one summer. Almost immediately, he took to the profession. “I definitely learned that passion and self-education are the two most important things when you’re making a career for yourself in the restaurant industry.”

A member of the inaugural team that launched the bar at the newly opened St. Laurent in July 2022, alongside industry veteran Ricardo Rodriguez formerly of Miami’s Broken Shaker, Hakim finds great fulfillment in his current role as bar manager. He also leads all hiring efforts for the bar, and has recruited a rockstar team of seven bar staff, many of whom have been nationally recognized for their work in the industry. When hiring, Hakim looks “for people who have put in the work themselves, or seem to be open and willing to learn more.” He emphasizes “being the constant student,” because, as he said, “There’s never a point in the world when you’re going to know everything there is to know.”


Consequently, Hakim steers one of the premier bars in the tri-state area. It’s fitting for a venerated venue such as The St. Laurent, which originally opened as a hotel and guest house in 1886. Composed of 20 design-driven rooms, a swanky pool area, and a full-service restaurant, Heirloom at The St. Laurent led by chefs David Viana and Mike Smith ling, The St. Laurent is pure elegance. Hakim’s bar program ties it all together.

“I guide our team on the creation of each cocktail recipe, often spending days creating handcrafted ingredients and making detailed adjustments,” he noted. “It’s a really large undertaking to create a cocktail list, especially with everything we have going on here. We have three separate bars on property, each with its own unique cocktail list: The Lounge, The Pool, and Heirloom. At any given time, we can have up to 25 or 30 cocktails in our stable that we are serving on a daily basis.”

Hakim doesn’t necessarily have one signature drink; instead, he takes a hyper-seasonal approach to the cocktail menu, which he explained is constantly evolving.

“We focus on classic cocktails, so we’re always going to have the classics, the tried-and-true drinks that everybody knows and loves, but we’re going to put our Heirloom spin on them,” Hakim said. “That could be a negroni that has a completely different flavor profile incorporated into it, or a fresh new spin on a staple like a margarita, Manhattan, or old fashioned. We don’t hold on to drinks too often. We have a signature menu, yes, but those offerings change hyper seasonally because we want it to stay fresh for our guests.”

Brimming with the same exuberance he had when he first entered the restaurant industry, Hakim is set for a spring filled with colorful drinks, eclectic fare, and a bar crew he calls family.


The St. Laurent

408 7th Avenue, Asbury Park