Home' Bars and Clubs : BAC SeptOct 2016 Contents JAIME WIRTH
Jaime Wirth and Michael Delany,
the co-founders of the Drink’n’Dine
pub group, have established their
own hospitality consulting business,
International Worldwide. The pair sold
their venues, including The Oxford
Tavern, The Norfolk and Queenies,
to Dixon Hospitality Group at the
beginning of the year, and have been
consulting on several venues since
then, before deciding to officially
offer their services to other pubs,
bars, restaurants and clubs.
Wirth and Delany, who between
them have 35 years of experience
in various aspects of hospitality –
from DJing to owning and operating
nightclubs and pubs – decided that
their expertise could help other
industry operators in many different
facets of their businesses.
“After many years of running our
own venues, we thought we could
take some of this knowledge and
experience and help some other
people with their own projects.
Help others learn from some of our
mistakes and triumphs,” stated Wirth.
“We have always been very hands on
with our own businesses and think we
can apply this experience to helping
other operators. Some occasionally
crazy ideas too.”
Since selling Drink’n’Dine, Wirth
and Delany have collaborated on
House of Crabs in Melbourne for
Dixon Hospitality Group; and small
bar Dim Dooley, and nightclub Mary’s
Poppin for Terry Board in Adelaide.
WHAT MADE LAB SO ICONIC?
After many years serving Soho, the iconic bar and
industry hangout Lab closed its doors as of the
beginning of September.
The site will reopen in November as a new bar run
by Bobby Hiddleston and Mia Johansson, who will
own the bar in partnership with fellow husband and
wife team and founders of Speakeasy Entertainment
(Nightjar & Oriole), Edmund Weil and Rosie Stimpson.
The iconic venue was a training ground of
bar industry greats, including Dre Masso, Andrea
Montague, Tim Stones, and John Gakuru.
Gakuru was the general manager of LAB from
2000 to 2005 and has some insight into why it was a
key destination for bartenders from around the world.
“It wasn’t one particular thing. It was the sum of
all of its parts,” says Gakuru. “If you laid all the pieces
of LAB out in a carpark, it wasn’t incredible in any
one particular area but if you put all of those things
together – interior design, music policy, cocktail list,
bartenders, customers, Soho, even the toilets – all
those things together in one package that was 1999
through the early 2000s, and you have something
that was, at that time, evolutionary.
“What I mean by that is that the best cocktails at
the time in London were in classic London hotel bars –
the Savoys and the Langhams and the Ritzs and so on
– but if you wanted a good time or a laugh you only
had TGI Fridays, Planet Hollywood, or nightclubs.
“There wasn’t something that brought an up-
tempo energy, with incredible cocktails, and with bar
staff who gave as good as
they got and could banter
with guests, and give them
an experience that not
many people were used to
and drive that energy and
passion for a great guest
“Guest experience is a
better term than customer
service, because there were
many times when we were
clearly rude. But even when
being clearly rude to a
guest, you can create a great
guest experience. They enjoyed it.
“As a result of really caring about the ingredients
that went into a glass and the way those were then
presented to a guest, was as important as loving what
we did for a living. There was this amazing magic
“When I took over as general manager, the old
team moved out. My team came in and I had them for
the whole time I was manager, basically. There was
hardly any staff turnover behind the bar for five years.
Which is amazing.
“We knew we were doing something new and
special and we knew we were a destination for
bartenders from around the world. We were a rite of
passage but there was never an arrogance about that
– it was more an onus of responsibility to deliver on
“I definitely felt it at the time but I also had the
freedom and the autonomy to have fun and love
what I was doing. Pushing boundaries and making
sure that LAB stayed open – we had to stay busy and
profitable, and it was all pre-social media too. There
was no ‘boost post’.
“Our reputation was built through word of mouth –
‘Have you been to LAB? Have you seen those fucking
idiots blow fire on the ceiling, and they’re all drinking
shots of tequila behind the bar at 9pm. You have to
check this place out’.
“LAB was about each small detail building up
a picture and a guest experience and a career
experience that was second to none.”
DRINKS WITH DE NIRO WINNER
VDKA 6100 and The Drink Cabinet are sending Christopher Ford from WA off to NYC to have
“Drinks with De Niro”. Ford was the inaugural winner of the cocktail competition that will be
sending him and a friend to New York to not only share a few cocktails with Robert De Niro, but
also experience Manhattan’s best bars. The competition was a carte blanche for the entrants to
explore ultimate creativity, as the only requirement was a measure of VDKA 6100. Competitors
were encouraged to create and add any compounds, liquids or textures they pleased. Ford’s
winning drink was The Whey Home and featured: VDKA 6100, fig and beeswax infused Lillet Blanc,
lemon juice, and coriander seed syrup; and garnished with a dehydrated lemon wheel and a piece
of dehydrated fig. Ford will be jetting off to the US in late October.
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