“How was Thailand?”, Luka asked as soon as he arrived. I was already sitting in one cool cafe in Martićeva Street, drinking freshly squeezed orange juice. “I’m going there in ten days, so I wanted to ask you a little bit about what its worth seeing,” he explained the main reason of our meeting.
For the next twenty minutes I talked about my experiences in Thailand 6-7 years ago. I spent a couple of months in that country, traveled up and down, and gave him a few (hopefully) helpful tips, keeping in mind that this was my experience quite some time ago, and that probably a lot of things changed.
“And now I was only one month in Phuket.” I was approaching to the end of my Thai story. “I did not move from Kata much, where I attended a bartending school.
“Yes, I saw on Instagram how you threw bottles and shakers,” he said, laughing. “What is your plan now, a new trip or stay in Zagreb?”
“Most likely I will stay in Zagreb,” I replied. “I don’t feel like traveling anymore, I would like to put down roots in my town, and I am thinking about opening my own bar.
I told him about my concept of juice/cocktail bar and the transformation from one to another. I talked to him about personal and economic perspectives, but also from an objective perspective I noted that the chances to find some decent space in the city center – were very small.
“Hey Tom,” I heard a woman’s voice behind me. “What are you doing here?”
I turned around and saw a familiar face at the adjoining table. It was Andrea, an acquaintance from my youth, and todya one of the most famous balerinas in Croatia. She was sitting with her friend, and her sweet baby boy.
“I just came back from Thailand,” I answered – “I’m thinking of opening a bar somewhere in the center, so I’m looking for some space.”
“Well, you know…” – she started.
Fourty eight hours later I was talking on my cell phone and arranging the last details.
“That’s it,” I said to D. when I hung up the phone. “On April 1st we are taking over Wine bar Basement.”
A lot of things happened since Andrea’s “Well, you know… sentence until this moment. Shortly – a lot of coincidences, some luck, little bit of destiny (in which I don’t believe), but at the end, it wasn’t that important. What was important that we get down to business. We had a little less than two months to open a bar, and a lot of work. Especially because we needed to create two bars in one. Because we wanted to rely on local products as much as possible, because we wanted to be as environmental friends as possible, because we wanted to do the hospitality part right.
Ideas, meetings, drawings, sleepless nights. After a month we had a name that gave us the biggest headache.
We looked for a name that would represent a unique concept of juice/cocktail bar. We needed something to mark the change that will take place every day between the first and second shift. We needed something that might be associated with me and my travels, or the end of my travels and return to Zagreb. We needed something to mark our ecological footprint. We needed something that would be in English so many tourists would understand.
Hundreds of ideas went through our heads. Almost all of the ideas were bad, like always in such situations.
But one thought constantly went around my head – going back to the roots. I have traveled the world for many years, and now I came back to my roots, to put down roots and stay in my hometown.
Roots. Roots juice & cocktail bar.
That was it. There was a link between the name and juice and cocktail bar, in the form of vegetables that we will use as one of the main ingredients. Roots had a connection with change, a new life is born from the roots. Roots is related to the bar area itself that is in the basement / ground floor of the building. And it sounds good.
Let’s go to Roots – people will say, hopefully.
Bunch of people helped us in the process (you know who you are!), and almost everyone was enthustiastic of our idea and our energy. Since we had a small kitchen we planned two food menus – in the first shift the emphasis will be on healthy food (smoothie bowls, avocado and hummus toasts, fruit salads) and in the other at local plates, tapas, and similar.
There were a lot of challenges – we had to find an alternative to plastic – straw, cups for to-go juices, cutlery. It was necessary for both shifts to create menus, to choose a uniform for staff, to think of the kind of music that will be in the background of the juice bar, and in the background of the cocktail bar.
Somehow, that’s what we did. Or at least we think we did.
On April 1st, we took over the keys of the bar, and for the next few days we were more often in the bar than out of it. We rearranged the space the best we could, in our own way. We got ready to open our doors, attract people to come, allow them to feel comfortable and at home, impress them and surprise with our offer, and motivate them to come back again.
And right now, as I type these last lines, I’m ready to go to work. It’s the fourth working day of our Roots bar. We didn’t have an opening night or made a big fuss about it. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t.
I do not know when I will have time to type another blog post. But if you are interested in checking out the continuation of this story, address is Tomićeva 5 – come by for a juice, a cocktail, a conversation.
I’m off to work. Excited and happy, like I was excited and happy when I raised my thumb ten years ago and went towards east…