19/11/2008 - 22:00

Under –promise, over deliver

19/11/2008 - 22:00

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THE man behind the concepts of Cino to Go, Luxe Bar, Bar One and The Brisbane Hotel, Geoff Hayward, has been very quiet in the past year, but he says the radar is ready to be turned back on in 2009.

Under –promise, over deliver

THE man behind the concepts of Cino to Go, Luxe Bar, Bar One and The Brisbane Hotel, Geoff Hayward, has been very quiet in the past year, but he says the radar is ready to be turned back on in 2009.

Mr Hayward sold the Brisbane Hotel for $15.3 million to the Dutch group ING Real Estate Entertainment in August 2007, and recently signed a 60-year lease for the venue.

"Nothing changed except the real estate...sometimes you have to bank profit, and that's what I did," he told WA Business News.

Since the sale, Mr Hayward says he took a year off to go sailing, build a new house and get some "me time".

"This year I did the Aeolians just off Sicily. Then I got the boat taken to Greece and I did Greece for eight weeks, went to Turkey and left the boat there; next year I'm doing Turkey," he says.

Mr Hayward says he tries to come back to Perth every two or three months to "inject love into the business".

But this year, for the first time, his radar was really turned off.

"I'm building a house and I wanted to get fitter. I wanted to go sailing, kite boarding, I had to tell myself not to look at what's for sale out there," he says.

"Even when I saw that [Warren Mead businesses for sale] I thought, 'no I'm not looking', because I really had to have the year off."

But Mr Hayward found it hard to completely relax.

"It's hard work actually, not wanting to get on and go and look. It's hard to say, 'no I'm going to read and I'm going to go to the beach, I'm going to get my tennis better'," he says.

"I'm only getting it now and it's nearly the end of the year, so maybe next year I will have another year off.

"You say you're going to have the year off and all of a sudden you're at an auction, you're 60 and you've been working for 40 years. You know, I left school when I was 15 and worked pretty hard for 25 years; there's not much point being rich and being at work everyday."

And while he doesn't know what his next venture will be, he's sure it will be big.

"There are enough people who can get into small bars and I encourage that. Hopefully some of my employees will start up little small bars. That's not for me anymore, I like the big ones," Mr Hayward says.

"Because the operation turns me on much more with 100 people and 14 chefs, I couldn't go back to one chef ...it will be something big with lots of moving parts, but I don't know what it will be yet."

A bricklayer by trade, Mr Hayward found his inspiration for hospitality venues through his many travels, and more often in unexpected places.

He says the delis attached to service station in the Alps of Europe inspired him to develop the concept for Cino to Go, which he sold to Dome in 2001.

"Venues like Luxe are a combination of lots of places that I have been to, including airport lounges."

Mr Hayward acknowledges he has been fortunate that Perth punters have embraced his ventures, but believes that following a concept through with the product is crucial, especially in times of economic uncertainty.

"We're going to have a bit of a downturn and lots of businesses will put a little less tomato in their sandwich...but we'll do the opposite," Mr Hayward says.

"If you only have $50 to spend to go out and have a meal, a beer and a coffee, you will eventually do it where you know the coffee will have nine grams of coffee in it and the beer will be refrigerated at two degrees, not three," he says.

"So that's what I say to them, don't skimp on your product, make a promise and over-deliver."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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