Cibi, in Melbourne’s Collingwood, is the kind of business which prompts you to ask if you’re eating at a retail store, or shopping at a cafe. The retail-hospitality hybrid from Meg and Zenta Tanaka seamlessly blends a relaxed contemporary eatery with a carefully considered shop featuring a bags, stationary, ceramics and cooking utensils.
“The idea of merging retail and hospitality is not new, but I feel like it is making a resurgence,” says Adele Winteredge of Foolscap Design Studio. “People are creating niche environments and places that once you travel to, you do not have to leave. These places offer the entire experience, and allow you to be immersed in the best of what each has to offer.”
“You hang out there,” she adds, pinpointing a reason why these spaces are resonating with consumers.
These hybrid venues range from grocer-eateries such as Jerome Batten’s Sourced Grocer in Brisbane and Jarern Chai grocer and its Boon Cafe in Sydney, to full-blown retail and hospitality developments such as The Stables Co-Op in Surry Hills, which houses a cafe, a fashion retail store and a hairdresser. Močan & Green Grout in Canberra’s New Acton neighbourhood is a sustainably-minded cafe, bicycle store and quasi-art gallery-in-one. The founders invite artists to redecorate the space on a regular basis.
In her second My Bookshop outpost in Melbourne, owner Corrie Perkin is looking to create a 21st-century bookshop replete with homewares, a light-filled cafe and an events and exhibition space, all with Wi-Fi to allow visitors to spend time there.
When Broadsheet spoke last year with Benny Walters, a founding member of We Are The Stables, he said the collective was looking to offer, “a place where you can always expect to leave feeling like you have spent quality time, whether for a coffee, meal or a new wardrobe staple.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Sebastien Lepoittevin, general manager of Print Hall in Perth, a four-storey hospitality complex that combines a bakery and cafe, restaurant and rooftop bar.
“It is all about offering our customers the chance to increase their food and beverage passions in the home environment,” he says. “Customers can take home the products they find special, so they can share the experience with friends and family. Whether this means they love their Small Print coffee on the way to work so they buy the beans for their home, or they enjoy the bread products at lunch, so buy a freshly baked loaf by Marty the baker to have with Sunday brunch.”
Around the world, concept stores such as Merci and Colette in Paris and Dover Street Market in London and New York, are designer destinations that bring together the best in fashion, design, household goods, and food. Saturdays in New York is a cult fashion label and store with a popular coffee shop. Eataly, also in New York, combines an Italian grocery store, culinary retail outlet, bookstore, bar, cafe and restaurant under one roof. Each one has a specific person and lifestyle in mind, and has been carefully curated to provide an experience that speaks to that type of person.
The Raw Kitchen in Perth is a stylish, multi-purpose locale, with a plant-based restaurant, a lifestyle store and a yoga and studio space.
“The Raw Kitchen is about celebrating a life lived well—supporting healthy, sustainable choices by representing a progressive holistic lifestyle,” says Emma Gilbert, director. “For us, this always meant more than just quality food, but all aspects of one’s life, one’s mental state, physical expressions … creating a venue that brought these elements together made perfect sense in our eyes, showcasing how these things go hand in hand.”
“We see it as an extension of the traditional hospitality model, a new type of venue that embraces a whole approach to life and a cultural experience for new and like minds.”
Why does Gilbert think people are so responsive to these types of interactive, multifaceted spaces? “When a venue is about more than just the product, but about the story behind it and what it represents, people can relate on a level greater than just sharing a meal.”
“We hope it allows for a much broader experience.,” she continues. “Most people find out about our venue through the food. If they’re curious, we have the resources to explore further. They can purchase some of the pantry items, equipment, books or similar products to take a little piece of the experience home to bring into their own lives. They can sign up to come along to one of our lectures or workshops and learn how to prepare this type of plant-based cuisine for themselves, or they might take note of a few of our sustainable measures and spark an interest in exploring the possibilities further in living a cleaner, lighter life on this planet. What we represent is a lifestyle approach and the resources to embrace this in any small or large way.”
Even the world’s best restaurant, NOMA in Copenhagen, has created a space for retail in its Food Lab. The carefully curated store sells books, clothing and kitchen goods. Certainly, the restaurant is not lacking in demand but this extra arm allows guests to engage with the experience of NOMA on another, deeper level. And it allows them to take a piece of the experience home.