1/f 13 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay. Right opposite the Craigengower Cricket Club, entrance in between the Roxy-Quicksilver Shop and Nam Ah Restaurant.
A beautiful 2000+sf space, lots of light, big windows, wonderful view of the Cricket Club and our very own Grand Entrance on Leighton Road. We had to get it, and we were running out of time! Our lease expiring, we had only two months to sign a lease, plan the design, get a license and finish construction! I still don’t know how we did it, but here we are…
On your left is/was our so-called “empty canvas”. It used to be an office. The plaster on the plain white walls were knocked away to reveal a most beautiful, red coloured brick wall; hiding beneath the pillars was a concrete surface with a wonderful rough look and texture, we were in luck!
And below is the finished piece, complemented by Ms. Sealey Brandt’s timeless & amazing black & white portrait photography which looks amazing on the dual-textured surfaces.
We actually opened in May, and yes, its November now that I’m posting the pics, updates and all, but that’s because we’ve been quite busy with another project called “Marie’s Patisserie & Boulangerie”. But that’s for another blog.
Meanwhile, back in April, this was what was happening: chaos
To be a true construction worker in Hong Kong, you have to:
1. Be properly tattooed
2. Eat Char Siu Rice at least once a week
3. Have a pre-lunch break and tea break and ready to finish work at 4.50pm.
4. Be able to paint, drill and saw with a cigarette in your mouth.
Original, original flooring. Look at this floor…yes, it looks bad but believe me, we all looked even worse given all the work we had to put in to remove this original vinyl tiling. Notice that underneath the glue you can see glimpses of the old ceramic tiling that was underneath. This 1960’s ceramic tile flooring was what I wanted (demanded). I was adamant (strangely adamant) that we HAD to remove the vinyl (which was easy) AND the glue (which was darned impossible), to reveal the original original tiling underneath.
We found that the only way to remove the glue was using paint thinner (dangerously toxic quantities), a scraper and cloth. We had hired a new bartender. His first duty was to help us do this. We were all on the floor, on our hands an knees, with the powerful SARS masks on our faces and large tins of thinner at hand, scraping, wiping, scraping, wiping. Boy, our bartender was proving to be a really good hire. I guess mixing cocktails strengthens the hands?On the 2nd or 3rd day, he had polished up a pretty good area of clean tile!
Then he stopped…and sat…for about a good hour, just staring at the clean patch of floor around him. Then he went for a cigarette break. And that was the last we saw or heard from him.
I wonder what was going through his head…or maybe his mask was faulty and he actually blacked out…we will never know…whatever it was, thank you so much Chris, even though you only stayed a couple of days, your help was invaluable we don’t blame you for leaving.
Back to the story: I really wanted a REAL fireplace, but given that you are on the first floor of a multi-storey building, and given that you are in HK, adamance or not, it just wasn’t happening (plus I doubt the Fire Services Department will ever allow it). So I settled for this cute little decorative piece that can actually be set to blow out hot or cold air, and made to look like it is burning a flame or just hot coal. I am very pleased with it, if you’d like one for yourself, I got it from The Hampton’s Furniture Ltd at Horizon Plaza in Aberdeen.
As you can see, it is the perfect setting for the antique Elephant Buddha very generously donated by my mother from her Indochine antique collection…
We had an empty wall that we were not sure what to do with, and then I picked up the Galleri Magazine for inspiration and !eureka! found a few artists that were perfect for the job: Jonathan Jay Lee, Start from Zero, Scott Chan and Graphic Airlines. We loved the work of all these artists, but in the end, we could only choose one and we went with Graphic Airlines, because we thought that their design would suit the place better. Voila, they transformed our wall into an imaginary world, a magical dream where rabbits are 15ft tall, poodles float like clouds and photographers are giants…perfect!
Since construction was done in the day, the arty work had to be done at night. So for a couple of nights, Tat & Vi from Graphic Airlines and some friends from Brunch Club would be in the shop, sometimes till 5am…painting, taking naps, drinking beer…Graphic Airlines crew doing the wall, Brunch Club crew painting the ceiling (its just a dark brown colour, nothing special, please don’t look up at it or you’ll notice the amateur job).
Btw, Tat & Vi are all you would imagine artists to be, right down to the haircut, thick-rimmed glasses, fashion sense and love of liquor!
So for all the artists out there and whoever else who shares the same love for beers, wines, cocktails and spirits, we’ve got a brand new bar for you with a temperature controlled wine cellar. Plus, a daily happy hour complete with snacks (think tempura oysters) from 5-8pm.
Now for our entrance…Paris to me has always been Eugène Atget’s Paris. I did not want to recreate it (how could I?), but that was what I had in mind when creating our entrance. So we turned a simple staircase corridor into a little street scene, with wooden window sills, potted plants, street lamps and a big, banging, in your face, red signboard lit by a million light bulbs, like a billboard from the old days (with some missing bulbs, just to complete the look).
I must admit, with the time constraints, and the copious amounts of pillars in this space, I was really stressing over the ambience bit. We had an amazing chef team, well-trained service staff, and I had to deliver on the other key factor, ambience. I could not let everyone down. Thankfully, we’ve got an amazing and overwhelming response thus far! Bar the teething problems with any new business, our guests seem to be very pleased with the ambience, food and service.
Roll credits: We’d like to thank all the people we work with, all our friends and family, and all brunch clubbers for your help, support and effort throughout this amazing journey. We hope you’ll be on board with us for the many adventures to come, no matter where you are!
All photos taken by Jonas Lillie except the one of Graphic Airlines painting the mural.