SGC Profile – Marie Phillips, Owner – Hidden and Havana

Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Originally a software entrepreneur, Marie Phillips was inspired by the personal stories and interaction with people that hospitality provides, leading her to sell her company in 2015 and make the move into the café and venue industry.

Marie purchased her first hospitality business, Palm Beach’s Third Base Coffee in 2016, transforming this little hole in the wall business into a thriving suburban café. In 2017, Marie expanded her horizons and purchased Tugun’s Groove Café and later, neighbour Hidden.

How did Hidden and Havana come to be?
I purchased Groove Café in March 2017. Rather than renovating it and turning it back into a day time café, I looked at the changing demographic of the area and opted to create a restaurant called Havana that complimented the style and clientele that frequent Hidden.

I fell in love with Hidden the moment I visited as a patron. The Gold Coast lacks small, intimate live music venues that give personal service and are genuinely local. Hidden is a truly unique venue for the Southern Gold Coast. After purchasing the business I did a complete renovation of the inside to give it a sophisticated feel while capturing that cosy feel.

What made you choose Tugun as the location for your two businesses?
Tugun is awesome. I lived at Bilinga when I purchased the businesses and just loved the village feel of Tugun. My favourite line by the majority of our customers in Hidden and Havana is “I just live up the road” – Tugun is about being local and taking care of each other.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?
The highlight of owning the businesses is to hear the feedback from customers. We are in the business of creating happiness – there’s nothing better than receiving a glowing comment about my staff, the food, the music and the atmosphere.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I have been in business on the Gold Coast for 15 years and in that time I have worked with some truly inspirational business leaders that have developed world class companies right here on the Coast. The venues reflect what I’d like to experience in my down time – happiness, familiar, good food, fabulous wines, live music, no reason to hurry, time to enjoy, laugh and enjoy friends.

What makes Hidden and Havana special?
We have tried to create a unique experience in each venue. In Hidden is about the music, we are focused creating a relaxed environment where our customers relax and completely immerse themselves in the music, the food and the cocktails. Havana is about the food – divine dishes inspired by Caribbean influences of Creole Cooking. Crisp linen tablecloths, napkins and fine dining.

What do you love the most about having a business in this region?
The Southern Gold Coast was a well-kept secret but I think we’ve been found out. I love the sense of community, the feeling that we’re part of a change period for Tugun as it becomes known for the friendly place that it is.

What does the future hold for you and your businesses?
Focus on excellence in everything that we do. We’d love to attract well known artists to play one off exclusive gigs – like back in the old days! Havana will continue to focus on everything food, our Chef is a Michelin starred Chef and we can’t wait for more people to experience the dishes that customers are raving about. For me, it’s about building a team of people who are dedicated to our vision, deliver exceptional customer experiences every time and love their job.

You have had a number of successful businesses, what is the secret to success?
Listen to the customer, over and over again, put your staff first at all times, find the right people to work in the business and have fun.

For more information about Hidden or Havana, visit their websites or find them at 455 Golden Four Drive, Tugun.

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