Sydney Creative People: Cured Manly

What do you get when you mix an architect with a hospitality expert?? Well, the answer lies within the walls of Cured in Manly, a beautiful little establishment that specialises in wine, cheese and cured meats.

They say simplicity is confidence, and in the case of this business, I'd say that's bang on the money. Cured opened its doors just under a year ago, and it didn't take long for us to stumble across it (as you do when you live in Manly... almost NOTHING goes unnoticed here). The thing that excited us about it is that it's completely different to anything else in town. Their vision is so strong, clear and uncompromising, and that's a beautiful thing to see.

There's a whole lot of tourist spots in Manly, with very middle-of-the-road menus, interiors and concepts that are designed to capture the masses. But this one is for the locals... and for people who appreciate good wine and really, really great produce. The menu is specialised, and the space is small and intimate enough for you to actually get stuck into a decent conversation with the person next to you.

Bridie and Jeremy are newlyweds, and they're ambitious and creative. Deciding to jump into a business together as newlyweds is not something the average couple is willing to do. The time and effort involved in setting up a brand new bar is immense! Not to mention the financial risk!  But jump they did.

By day, Bridie works upstairs at her architects firm, Platform Architects, and she does all of the very important behind-the-scenes work for Cured, while Jeremy takes care of business at front-of-house. It works for them, and it also means they get to sit down together at the end of the day in their beautiful bar and de-stress over a glass of one of their delicious wines (they are living my bar dream!).

This is their story, as told by Jeremy...

Bridie Gough and Jeremy Ricketts, owners of Cured. Photography by  Richard Whitbread .

Bridie Gough and Jeremy Ricketts, owners of Cured. Photography by Richard Whitbread.

Bridie and I hadn't been together all that long, but it felt right to embark on something together...

Our combined roles made an easy fit for a restaurant. It evolved rather quickly... things seemed to fall into place, which only fueled our motivation. When we were first shown the space at the back of an old retail shop, that led onto a pretty dingy laneway at the back of Manly Corso, we knew Cured would be born. The day we signed the lease we were both elated and petrified at the same time!

We feared not being accepted... 

We knew our idea was strong, but customers are savvy and expect a lot from a restaurant these days. We knew that in order to get acceptance from the customers, we had to ensure quality produce and exceptional service.

I am a people person... 

I love to chat and meet new people! I had three decades of experience in the industry, ranging from hotel management, airline project management, business-class airline service, and numerous hospitality jobs in between. And Bridie had been running her own architectural firm for three years, so she was able to bring that business mind and admin understanding to the mix. Not to mention a brilliant fit-out design.

Photography by  Richard Whitbread .

Photography by Richard Whitbread.

In terms of essential skills I've had to master...

Stock management has been something that I had to get a handle on pretty quickly. Forecasting stock movement and ensuring we don't disappoint anyone by not having their favourite Montepulciano in stock!

Support has been imperative to our success... 

In the beginning we were like sponges. We spoke to as many people as possible about their experiences. Cured is now evolving as we learn from things. Not just mistakes, but I think a business has to learn to grow, and we are being nicely fertilized at the moment! :)

I've been surprised at the influence of Instagram and food bloggers...

The world of marketing certainly has changed, but it's also made the world more accessible to the average restauranteur trying to establish a business. We are very conscious of having an up-to-date website, and of updating our Instagram feed regularly. I am very picky about what gets posted and will sometimes take a few go's to get the post looking and reading perfectly. We are still building our brand so identity is critical.

We are pretty careful about brand and identity...

The brand is simple but the identity is more complicated. Our aesthetic has to match the quality of what we serve and how we serve it. It took us weeks to decide on our napkin fold!!

Cured in Manly. Photography by  Richard Whitbread .

Cured in Manly. Photography by Richard Whitbread.

I think consistency is key to a successful brand... 

Something simple, yet memorable. The brand has to resonate throughout every aspect of the business. Staff, marketing, service, interior design, produce etc. I think the brand is what ties it all together.

The first weekend we opened we sold out of most of our food...

This was such a relief as it confirmed our own opinion that Cured was something people would enjoy. And enjoy they did! It also taught us many lessons about turning tables, stock control, clean as you go etc. That weekend awoke us to the myriad of influences on a good night's service. It was a blessing and a comfort to know people would come.

People management is not easy...

It's a fine balance to find staff with good experience who are willing to really take on the Cured philosophy. We have been extremely lucky to date. We have an unbelievable team at Cured, who really ensure Cured stays true to what we are about.

We've learned...

That even though Cured was our concept idea, there are many ways to achieve the same goal and that, sometimes, it's a culmination of minds that results in the best outcomes. The team work involved to grow and improve Cured is what makes it so exciting.

Cured in Manly. Photography by  Richard Whitbread .

Cured in Manly. Photography by Richard Whitbread.

If I did it all again, I'd tell myself...

Don't sweat the small stuff. It's an age-old saying that still rings true. The energy that went into the setup was extreme and there really wasn't any energy left for additional stress or irrelevant worry. 

To other business owners...

Know your first 12 months; predict your first 3-5 years, and be 100 per cent happy in everything you put your name to.

Name 3 businesses that inspire me...

  • Apple from a brand identity and consistency point of view. Everything is so well considered.
  • The local Chica Bonita boys are also masters of the manly restaurant scene. Again - consistency in their product and brand seems to be critical.
  • Bridie's business, Platform Architects, also inspires me because she was so brave to go out on her own and business is all about taking risks and learning from mistakes.
Cured_2605_Web_46.jpg

For a product to get as far as our menu, it has to have a story...

A good one. For example our bread is grown from a single origin of wheat in the Flinders Ranges. It took them 20 years to cultivate the grain, which results in a higher protein content and a beautifully light sourdough. Our salame are slowly dried which alleviates the need for nasty nitrites. They are created by the de Palma family who use natural cultures and skins to complete their salame which is very different to many other producer's approaches. It's been beautiful to see the pride that does into quality products such as the ones we sell. Come and hear their stories!

If I could click your fingers and change one thing about the world...

I would heal all those gluten and dairy intolerant people so that they could enjoy bread and cheese as much as we do!!! 

Owning and running cured has given me a new found sense of pride and achievement... 

My years in the industry have culminated in something that Bridie and I are so proud of and something that we truly believe in. I love chatting to the customers and hearing their stories - it almost becomes like catching up with old friends every night. 

Next year will be huge...

We are launching a winter a la carte menu to accompany our shared selections, as well as a new brekkie concept for Manly. Stay tuned!

www.curedmanly.com.au