Home' Bars and Clubs : BAC MayJune 2015 Contents M rco Nu es
Acareer in hospitality was always on the
cards for Marco Nunes. According to the
bartender and bar owner, he always loved
being around drinks and around people, and there
was no question of what he wanted to do in his
"As I grew up, my passion for personal
interaction became bigger and bigger," he says.
So, when he moved to Paris, Nunes embarked
on a four year Hotel Management course, before
indulging his passion for bartending.
"Because I always liked the bar more than
anything else, I did a one year bartending course in
Paris," he says. "And then I started to work in bars."
Nunes learned the French style of bar
service -- something he says has stayed with him
throughout his career and still influences how he
runs his bar today.
"Customer service is the main thing," he
says. "The attention to detail -- the French are
pretty good at that. The one thing I have learned
from France is to do whatever it takes to make
After moving to London and working in a variety
of venues, including TGI Fridays -- which he credits
for its customer focus if not its cocktail repertoire
-- Nunes met his wife, an Australian, and after a few
years they decided to give Brisbane a shot.
"I thought, Australia?" he says. "Ok, I'll give it a
try. Next thing you know I've been here for 10 years."
Though it wasn't all great beaches and sunny
days -- to say that Brisbane's bar scene was a
little under developed is an understatement.
For a bartender coming from London, which at
the time Nunes notes was probably the world's
leading cocktails scene, arriving in Australia was
a culture shock. However, though Nunes says the
industry was "a few steps back" from what he
was used to, people were keen to learn the skills
and techniques to follow in the footsteps of other
famous bar scenes.
A legend on the bar scene, Marco Nunes has been at the forefront of the
rapidly evolving Brisbane bar sector since he moved to the Sunshine
State from London town. We caught up with him to chat about what he's
learned through his time behind the bar.
"No one was really pretentious. It was a good
time to come in and work with bartenders," he
says. "It was challenging as they really wanted to
learn and to grow and get better. So it was pretty
good to come at this time in the industry."
AN ARTFUL BAR
Nunes was instrumental in shaping the bar scene
in Brisbane, with he and his wife, Emily Nunes,
partnering up with Bonnie Shearston and Tom
Sanceau to create Canvas.
"We wanted to open a bar where we would love
to hang out," he says. "We wanted to do the proper
cocktail bar table service so that people could sit
down and get the whole experience."
A bar of his own would also be able to indulge
his passion for cocktails.
Fortunately for Nunes and his partners, their
huge personal investment in the venue was well
received, despite their location having little foot
traffic -- the area was supposedly earmarked for
development at the time according to Nunes.
"We were lucky that the media really got behind
us," he says. "My wife is a PR machine. So they all
wanted know about who we were and what we
Nunes points out the importance of finding a
niche -- by placing themselves in a different part of
the market, they created a buzz and then in turn a
demand for their style of service.
With the capital raised personally, Nunes says
that he and his partners pulled all the strings they
had to get it opened as cheaply as possible.
"It was a matter of going out and shopping
for quotes and working smart," he says. "But, be
realistic about how much you can do on your
Additionally, he cautions potential operators
against going too cheap, as it can end up costing
more in the long run.
"Buy good equipment from the beginning," he
PEARLS OF WISDOM
With two successful venue openings
under his belt, Marco Nunes has a few
ground and ticking over.
Choose your location well -- chat to your
lawyers and advisers and go through
your lease properly to make sure that you
understand all the ins and outs.
Be patient -- don't expect things to kick off
straight away. It can take a few months or
even a few years to really put you on the
map and get regular customers.
Customer satisfaction is key -- the French
have the right idea. Focus on doing
whatever you can to make your customer
happy (within reason), whether that is
entertaining them or leaving them alone.
Regular staff meetings are a must --
keep everybody fresh and across new
products that are coming into the bar.
Create an experience -- understand what
each customer wants, whether that is to
be left alone, or to have a good chat.
Ask the right questions -- see what you
can ask to identify what they like and to get
an idea of how you can implement that.
Money is important -- understand exactly
where you stand financially and how
you can trade no matter how weak the
market might be.
says. "We tried to get things on the cheap and they
just break. So buy less, but buy good quality."
Opening a bar with multiple business partners
can be fraught with danger. For his part, Nunes
recommends making sure that you're all on the
same page before the doors open. For Canvas,
everything gelled until the doors opened -- that's
when differences in operational expectations
caused a few issues. That said, there are no hard
feelings and the bonus of being able to share the
work load between four people was a bonus in
M rco Nu es
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