HE may have created one of Perth’s best-known coffee shop chains and be busily building up his next hospitality empire, but Geoff Hayward (pictured above) is not one to broadcast his achievements.
And perhaps that’s because he believes there’s a lot more to achieve.
Mr Hayward sold his five Cino to Go stores and concept to Dome Coffees Australia in 2001 and has since opened Italian restaurant Monza, Luxe nightclub, the very chic bar and restaurant Bar One, and is about to start major renovations to The Brisbane Hotel.
But it’s only the start. Mr Hayward says he has many more ambitious plans in store.
“When we have good systems in place here [at Bar One] and The Brisbane is up and running, and both are how we want them to be, I will look for other opportunities,” Mr Hayward says.
“We would look for under-utilised sites and see if we can’t make something great that we can not only make money doing, but have fun doing it.
“There are plenty of successful places. The kiosk at the train station probably makes more money than I do, but do they have fun doing it? I certainly wouldn’t.”
Mr Hayward doesn’t like to get too comfortable with his businesses. In fact, it’s enjoying the work and the relentless pursuit of the next hospitality milestone that has brought him his current level of success.
He sold Cino to Go after three years because the businesses had, in some ways, outgrown him and he was getting bored.
“Cino had 55 employees and my job was changing from food and coffee to HR manager and all the other stuff that goes along with having 55 employees,” Mr Hayward says.
“I’d also started to get a bit bored, and when people get bored they go broke.”
His knack for the hospitality game, and a keen sense for business opportunities, started in Kalgoorlie after he completed his four-year builder’s apprenticeship in Perth.
“I left school when I was 15 to do an apprenticeship as a bricklayer. I did four years and got my certificate [despite deciding two years in that bricklaying was not a long-term career choice] and after that I went to Kalgoorlie for five years and did some catering and renovations,” Mr Hayward says.
His path from brickie to hospitality entrepreneur was partly the result of circumstances and partly good business acumen.
“I bought a home and a few other properties [in Kalgoorlie],” he says.
“I put a big kitchen in the home. In the heady days in the 1980s the only caterer in Kalgoorlie did sandwiches and stuffed eggs,” he says.
“I started to cook. I learnt how to cook from the Women’s Weekly magazines.
“They had pictures in them and I needed to know what it [the food] was meant to look like. I then got some big catering contracts.”
Mr Hayward still owns two commercial properties in Kalgoorlie but has left the cooking up to others who have more flair and passion.
A case in point is the partnership with Altos Bistro chef/owner Stephen Scaffidi on the Bar One and The Brisbane projects.
“When I got this site [Bar One] I realised that food would be a big component so I sourced the best foodie in town.
“He [Mr Scaffidi] came to my house, where I had an expensive bottle of pinot, to chat about my plans,” Mr Hayward says. “It was an easy sell.
“I said I’d do the finance and marketing and he could handle the food and the day-to-day operations.
“Before we started this we had an agreement in place just for Bar One, and then I met with him and pitched The Brisbane.”
Bar One opened late last year and, like Cino to Go, was inspired by European traditions.
“We want people to come in for a drink at 6pm, have some tapas, and leave the dinner thing until 8pm. It’s a way to unwind after a day in the office,” Mr Hayward says.
The bar is finding its niche in the heart of town (it’s located at QV1) and offers fresh, Italian-inspired food that is suited to ‘grazing’ over drinks, or a quick lunch or breakfast meeting.
Keeping himself, and his ideas, fresh is a matter Mr Hayward tends to by regular trips overseas.
An avid snowboarder, he travels offshore at least once a year.
And he believes it’s while experiencing different cultures that he often picks up ideas, becoming a Perth trendsetter in the process.
“I like bringing different things here. I get a buzz out of being the one who brought it here,” Mr Hayward says.
Before he opened Cino to Go Mr Hayward spent five years working in Europe – a destination, like New York, he often visits for holidays and business ideas.
“I went to Europe for five years. I started as a kitchen hand at this resort and ended up managing their nine chalets,” he says. “That’s when I came up with the idea for Cino. I was driving past panini bars and I thought it was fabulous.”
On his return home he opened his first Cino to Go store in King Street and followed it with a further four stores in two years.
After the recent sale of the Cino stores Mr Hayward launched Perth nightclub Luxe – which celebrated its second anniversary on New Year’s Eve – and Italian restaurant Monza.
He sold Monza last year, a decision he said was easy because the concept simply wasn’t working.
Mr Hayward and Mr Scaffidi’s latest project is The Brisbane Hotel.
The site will be gutted next month and the long-time favourite will be resurrected in September.
“Ten years ago the Brisbane was a fabulous pub and as long as we don’t get too tricky it should be fabulous again,” Mr Hayward says.
“I’m confident enough that this will work. I believe Perth needs it. I want it to be a destination place and tap in to Perth Oval;
“That entire two kilometre radius is the best in Perth.
“You walk up the strip and there’s all walks of life.”
Among the plans are an outdoor beer garden with two water features, which should significantly expand the hotel’s operating area, he says.
The centrepiece, however, is a very long bar.
“It’s a 55-foot-long bar, it’s a real bar and we’re bringing back that pub feel where you can sit at the bar and have a drink.
“We are doing real peasant food. It’s pub food and Steve is managing that. It will be completely different to what ALH does.”
The Effie Crump Theatre is no longer a tenant of the hotel and Mr Hayward is contemplating using the upstairs space for a comedy club. All he needs is to find a suitable operator.
“The kiosk at the train station probably makes more money than I do, but do they have fun doing it? I certainly wouldn’t.”
- Geoff Hayward
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