I’ve been travelling a bit lately. Which inevitably means sporadic meetings, with plenty of time to kill in between endless layovers and lattes.
And what better way to pass the time than by ‘researching’ what the movers, shakers and change makers are serving up to an increasingly discerning and spoilt clientele across our cool little cities. So, with notebook in hand, I’ve been chipping away at an ever expanding ‘must try’ list of inspired venues – from biodynamic cellar doors, to intimate wine bars, boutique digs to vibing hipster cafes.
While many of us have an appreciation for amazing design and admire innovation in business, there is still no getting away from the fact that this alone isn’t enough – ultimately it’s the folks at the helm who give places their heart.
Sadly, often we leave what should be really triumphant places feeling a little cold… unable to put our finger on why – perhaps it was an outwardly beautiful restaurant or stiff hotel manned by dis-engaged staff. A quaint, dawn opening corner bakery manned by a girl with a bullish boss, now simply trading time for money. Similarly… we’ve all got a favourite nook in a slightly shabby, warmly lit café where we’re met by the smell of freshly baked and welcoming faces – faces of lovely folks who know just how we like our coffee. Or a little laneway bar where broad smiled souls instinctively pour us a drop of what they figure might just tickle our fancy as they spin us a yarn about the maker.
Despite what Pinterest might have us think, we’re deeply guided by all of our five senses and become loyal customers of places that just ‘work’, where it just ‘feels right.’ Places we return to time and again to soak up the atmosphere, enjoy good honest food and wine, but also to see and support people who come to feel like old friends.
It’s no-longer enough to focus our attentions purely on design. An insta worthy vignette does not a successful business make – we must also invest in our people, ensuring they’re armed and genuinely motivated to best represent an inspired founders vision. As even the most triumphant offering will not reach its highest potential without passionate and invested people to fly your flag.
So, what makes me come back again and again?
– True hospitality.
Hosts who are warm, intuitive, informed and passionate – leaving us feeling privileged to have such a place to enjoy and support. Owners who value and invest in their people.
– Attention to detail.
The all important 1%. The lovely leather-bound menu with beautifully described fare. That lovely low lighting that hides a myriad of sins and sets the tone. It’s the music. The lap blankets on a chilly day, the room temperature full fat butter and freshly baked paper bagged bread.
– Authenticity and craftsmanship.
Places that are, and therefore feel, curated. Where an invested few have mindfully and painstakingly considered each and every piece/fitting/offering – from door handle to chair, hanging plants to glassware.
Places that resonate with us need not have cost the earth. They just need a little heart, a little consideration – and that all important human touch – so that we may feel them. Come to know them. Trust and value them.