One of the most prolific restaurateurs in Shanghai, David Laris is the man behind The Fat Olive, Martini Bar, Slice, the Barbie Café and the illustrious fine dining restaurant Laris at Three On The Bund.

So when the renowned Italian automotive brand Fiat and Abarth were looking to incorporate a café into its new showroom in Hong Kong, Laris was a natural fit. The Fiat and Abarth showroom is the first of its kind in Hong Kong and it is as much about promoting the Italian way of life as it is about displaying Fiat cars. At the hub of this showroom is the Fiat Caffé where Laris has married the sleek Italian design of Fiat cars with the rustic home comforts of Italian café life.

InHouse: When did you realise that you were not just concerned with the food on the plates but also every aspect of restaurants & bars?
DL: I realised quite early on that I wanted to be more involved in the totality of the way a restaurant concept worked. I have always been interested in knowing as much as I can about the things that affect the overall customer experience.

I-H: How did you go about achieving this?
DL: This desire to know and learn more and more about the whole package led me to take on roles that would open up opportunities to learn as much as I could. I took on extra work at every opportunity in order to make sure I was developing myself in the right direction.  The idea of one day being able to understand and participate in every part of creating a restaurant or bar concept was with me actually very early on. The desire to one day own my own business was a dream I had from an early age.

I-H: What is the role of a company such as DLC in the modern Food & Beverage industry?
DL: DLC can play a multitude of roles when working with an external client, from simply being an advisor or external voice contributing to the creative process, as well as the technical aspects of concept design and build. We can also provide full turnkey solutions to clients, where by we undertake the full scope of developing and opening a concept,
including putting a management team in place.

I-H: What is your first approach to a new project merging a big brand like Fiat with restaurants & bars? Was this project similar to your work for The Barbie Café?
DL: The first approach is always to listen and understand clearly the initial concept brief from the client, both from an emotional and practical standpoint. When working with major global brands it is also important to get our heads into as much of the brand DNA as we can. This allows us to align our concept with the brand and achieve the brief while still ensuring it is a product that will resonate with the end user (customer) and the client.

Keeping it real is very important to me. I always want to ensure that the food, beverage and service end of the product is the best it can be and that it reflects the integrity of the overall concept. Quality and authenticity are very important.

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