152 Old Street, London, EC1V 9BW, United Kingdom
Website: View bar's website
Style: Cocktail bar
Price guide: Middling
Owned by: Alex Kratena and Monica Berg
Images By: Tayer + Elementary
Denny Kallivoka caught up Alex Kratena and Monica Berg to talk about Tayēr + Elementary, their hugely anticipated joint venture slated to open in Spring 2019.
Can you please describe the new bar?
The bar is on Old Street, just before the round about when you come from Clerkenwell. Its location is very central, with a lot of businesses in the area, as well as residents. Our venue will conceptually split in different concepts; Tayēr, Elementary and Outthink – however, physically, they’ll seamlessly integrate.
Why East London?
To be honest, it’s part lucky coincidence, and part our style. When we started to look at venues three years ago, we were much more West End focused, just because our London audience at the time was there – or so we thought anyway – and because that was what we knew. Over time though, we’ve come to realise that this area probably is much closer to our personalities and everyday lives, as well as better suited to our budget. This was the 11th venue we looked at, and luckily, it was the one!
What made you decide to return behind the bar?
Truthfully, this was always the plan. Between us, we have more than 30 years of experience behind the bar, and this is what we love! Over the years, we’ve learned what we like, want and more importantly – what we don’t want in a bar, so when we left our previous jobs and started our company, this was the goal; to open our own bar, and run it the way we want to.
Obviously, nothing is ever as easy as you think it will be – nothing important that is – so it took us a bit longer than what we expected, but eventually we are getting where we want to be. Behind the bar, hosting people.
From all your travelling and experiences, upon which did you base your new concept and why?
I think the biggest lesson we’ve learned, is that collaboration really is the best route to get you from one place to another. We love working with talented people, and we love to see them do what they are great at. We always explain our ideas, but then we kind of take the back seat, and just let them go nuts and really bring their expertise and passion. At the end of the day – your team will do great things, if you allow them to and this is true across all disciplines; our chefs, our designers, our photographer and our collaborators for the spirits, beer, sake etc
You’ve worked hard promoting gender equality. Have you manage to apply this your bar?
We definitely try to apply equality and also equity with everything we do – including the bar. This obviously means the teams working, but beyond that, we have worked really hard to make the bar a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone! We are on street level, so we have wheelchair access across the whole venue, we have gender neutral restrooms – also disabled – and try to accommodate any kind of preference or allergy requirement.
We want our bar to be a place where people want to hang out, be it staff, guests, suppliers or our general local community.
Being aware that behind each of your steps there is great creativity, initiative and innovation, could you share with us, some ‘ideas’ from your new endeavour?
The bar is a very personal project, so it will definitely reflect that. The bar will have a strong food focus, as we have teamed up with Tata Eatery, and they will run the kitchen. Their food is amazing, and matches our drinks really well!
We often enjoy making our own rules, so I think the bar – as the name Tayēr (workshop in Spanish) reflects, will be a continuous ‘work in progress’. We are not too fussy about titles, so we are working with a flat organizational structure, where there’s no head bartender or floor manager etc – everyone will have different areas of responsibilities and be held accountable as such – but ultimately, we will all be the same, do the same and work together.
Monica you said that you are making a bar. (I love the idea!) Not a cocktail bar. Can you tell me why?
We spend as much time selecting our wines, beers, kombucha or coffee offerings as we do creating the drinks on our menu. We want to be the place you go to not to drink your favourite beer or cocktail, but the bar you go to when you want to try something new, something delicious and something interesting. What I mean by saying we are making a bar rather than a cocktail bar, is that I want to get away from the stigma of what a cocktail bar often is thought to be; a bit more formal, somewhere you need a bit of occasion to visit and a place where you have to drink cocktails. Elementary is the opposite of that – Elementary is almost the scenario where you say; what if a cocktail bar was like the pub?
The opening will consist of two bar concepts and a creative workspace.
At the front of the venue, Elementary will be an all-day bar, serving simple drinks and snacks focusing on seasonality, opening at 11.30am until late. Tayēr will be a progressive bar, focusing on what is inside the glass and on the plate. Then, Outthink, which will be led by Alex & Monica, will be a creative studio for education, research and consultancy.
The venue will consist of a large communal bar with counter seating and a communal table for up to ten guests. The bar will also utilise Taptails for speed of service. Alex & Monica have also joined Portuguese-Chinese duo, Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng of TÁ TÁ Eatery, to craft menus inspired by both East and West cuisines.
Tayēr + Elementary is Alex & Monica’s first bar as owners, and is the first bar project by Alex since leaving Artesian as Head Bartender in 2015.