Sustainable conversations: Support network
Coco’s is built on relationships. In fact our entire life is built on relationships, inter-connectivity and friendships. Consciously or not, that effects every aspect of our business. We make great demands on our staff, but the result is they become great. We push
them to learn and to connect to the craft of their role. It can be demanding but there is reward in a job well done, and like any shared experience in life (especially a period of growth) there is a strong bond that results. We become more than colleagues, we become friends.
The reaching for a shared goal creates a family of support. That sense of family extends to suppliers and services alike. That network of support, in our experience, allows us to improve our craft and continually reinvestigate and invigorate our business.
For me this is where the art is to be found in artisan. The love of the job, a relationship of sorts, the total immersion in the desire to own your craft. This, the Buddhists say, is the key to happiness. We believe it shows in people’s output, and for us it is the deciding factor in whether we work with someone or not. We have worked with Paul Simmons and Penelope Arnold in various guises for many many years. Paul and Penny work together at Manifesto Wines and supply us with some of the delicious vino on our list. We have shared births, deaths, weddings, celebrations, business openings, moves and restructures. Paul and Penny have not only been great suppliers, they have been amazing supporters (and painters, table sanders, door fixer-uppers) of Coco’s. Today we look into their love of wine, hospitality and life.
Hi Paolo & Pen, tell us what you do for a living?
Pen works part time for nice people like yourself, Little and Friday and Eight Point Two, alongside a gardening job and helping me at Manifesto where I sell wine from a small group of dedicated winemakers.
How did you get into wine?
With Pen it happened early, with a brother who loved wine and food, she’s always seen wine as an integral part of socialisation and it grew from there. I kind of just fell in to it, long before wine glasses were big enough to fall into of course. I always drank wine, and loved good food, but generally defined what I was drinking in terms of whether it was white or red. Then I was lunching with a mate who owned a busy restaurant, started part-time, and fell in love with food, wine, the people and the industry.
What do you love about your work?
Paul: The people I work with. My golden rule is that I never sell wine from anyone that I don’t like, which has resulted in working with a pretty eclectic and amazing bunch, and many of the people we sell to have become friends who share their lives with us. It’s not hard to get excited about being surrounded by interesting wine, food and people
I know you travel for work, but if you could go anywhere where would it be?
Pen: Barcelona — vibrant, stylish, great food and wine and a relaxed attitude to life.
Paul: There’s a list, so someone needs to read how I feel about my job and buy the company. Barcelona is a great start, I miss Copenhagen too, the design, the emerging food culture, the buildings, the people. The minute I landed there, I felt like I’d found my second home. And it’s bloody hard to beat sitting in a cafe in Paris devouring a perfect croissant and wondering about where you’re going to have lunch. Better stop now or I’ll be looking for cheap flights.
Could you draw your favourite meal (wine included obviously).
Pen’s is the locally made burrata with basil, tomatoes and pesto that we had as our first course with the family here on Christmas Eve. I would probably have drawn the crayfish poached in butter that Dave Griffiths cooked for us years ago when he and Prue owned Vinnies, but I gave up drawing when I gave up listening to nuns, so I’ll cheat and add a picture of a bottle drawn around a label my son designed.
What do you do to relax and have fun?
Pen: Gardening and long lunches — often with stuff from the garden, always with wine.
Paul: Eat, drink, love, read, breathe, spend time with good people.
Any plans for the business this year?
Pen: We would like to be more environmentally friendly with transporting wine to our customers, hopefully encourage them to order more, less often, continue to build staff training support for the people we sell to.
Paul: I’m with Pen on that one — you get what you give. I have come across several business people of late who see a sense of community as an integral component of a successful business. All of my suppliers have that same ethic and this industry is pretty good at that sense of helping one another. Plus slowly expand our range and services, share the passion.
If we wanted to buy your wine where would we go?
That’s a tricky one, most of it goes to restaurants and bars with only a little scattered around independent retailers like Caros, La Barrique, Smith and Caughey, The Wine Barrel in Auckland, Regional and Wineseeker in Wellington, Hillsdene in Tauranga.
Renee and Damaris Coulter own Coco's Cantina on K Road in Auckland.