How would you describe yourself and your brand? 

I'm a 27 year old brain in a 37 year old body (dad bod), a husband (sorry to break hearts… of none), a father (the best dad they have), and a community guy (friendly and nosey). I'm interested in most things and like to obsess over some of them. 

*Special Mention is “a neighbourhood joint serving up the best of times”. 

We are big on atmosphere and aim to be undeniably good at what we do.

Lex and Hollie Special Mention Arataki

When it came to designing your space, where did you find inspiration? 

We essentially renovated (heavily) an existing restaurant, so that, mixed with my genetic disability of being overly thrifty and having an allergy to waste, made for some limitations of what we could do with the site. Luckily, Hollie (wife and business partner) is a pro at spending money, so it balanced out nicely. We worked with some trusted friends (Parkby Projects and Homewerk) to make our mood boards and consolidate ideas. Basically, scrolling like a pervert on Tinder.

You’ve incorporated a number of G&W products into your space, what have you used and what do you love about each product? 

We have the Counter Signs, which we love for easily changing details on cabinets and retail items. Also, the new Utensil Caddies are amazing. They are going to last forever and have a clean aesthetic, which is very important to us. I'm fussy with what I really like, but items with a story set them apart. I love the George & Willy story.

What are your top three tips for anyone wanting to open a cafe or coffee shop?  

1 - Do your research. 
2 - Check your motives. 
3 - Be ready to work like your great grandfather did. 

When it came to the signage in your space, what was important to you?  

I ask myself; Does it fit in with our existing environment? Does it help, and is it necessary? The Eames quote says, "The details are not the details; they make the design." 

Signage is as important to the space as the furniture and colour scheme. 

What's the best piece of business advice you’ve been given? 

From an interview with Daniel Meyer of Shake Shack - "If you don't like problems, you don't like business." 

So like Jay said... “I gotta 99 problems but business aint one.” Ohhh yeah, I am a 37-year-old dad that makes bad jokes.

One item on your menu we MUST order? 

The burger. Before opening Special Mention, I put years into making smash burgers. Our burgers have been fine-tuned in both technique and ingredients for years. You just can't go wrong with yum things between bread. 

What is your favourite thing to do in Mount Maunganui on your day off?

Did your great grandfather have a day off? Nah I'm lazy, let's go to the beach! I love the beach in any weather — storms or sunshine.

What is next for *Special Mention, anything exciting on the horizon? 

We've found our nice groove day to day now. You can expect to see us open more evenings to keep learning and sharing about natural wines with our customers. AND getting big on TikTok, of course.