Character of K' Road - Pablo Arrasco Paz, co-owner of Madame George
When Pablo Arrasco Paz decided to keep and renovate the apartment he'd lived in for almost five years, he took a big leap and took over the lease from the nightclub below as well. He then convinced his wife-to-be to live and work on K' Road – and inherit an empty nightclub!
So begins the story of Madame George, recently listed as one of Metro Magazine's 2018 Top 50 Restaurants in Auckland. Pablo explains the birth of Madame George and his love of K' Road.
How long have you worked on K' Road?
I first lived in the K' Road neighbourhood in the mid 90's, in an open-plan warehouse on Cross St with my brothers and some very creative people. The people, the place, everything was vibrant, loud and slightly crazy – I have so many fun memories!! That was my introduction to living and working on K' Road and the beginning of a love affair with this special and unique part of town.
I think of K' Road as 'mi barrio', my neighbourhood, the street where I live and work. It was a natural transition for me to set up business[es] here. It is where I want to keep investing myself.
Describe Madame George and why you love what you do
I, together with Matthew Fitzgerald, my business partner, wanted to have a business that was a fun, creative space, where us and our friends could enjoy ourselves. It is the personal approach philosophy that we have both at the studio and at Madame George which, fingers crossed, comes across to our friends, guests, clients. It also reflects my South American background and previous jobs in fine dining, cocktail bars and boutique hotels in Auckland.
What inspired you to go into food in the first place?
I grew up in Peru – we moved here in the late eighties/ early nineties. Food is a very important part of our cultural identity. There is always food around. My earliest memories would be of being with the family, with food and laughter. Dad was very passionate about food and would take me to his secret spots whenever I went back to visit ... so many fond memories ... and I love food!!!
What is it that continues to attract you to K' Road?
I cannot imagine living or working in any other part of town. I'm attracted by the eclectic mixture of old and new, raw and designed, the beautiful hidden pockets of urban beauty and the character of some heritage buildings. It's like getting to know the stories from your grandmother who was a star back in the day… mischievous, fun ...slightly South American!!! Hahaha!!!
How do you see the future of K' Road?
I feel that we all have the opportunity and responsibility to play our part in the future of this beautiful strip!! I'm very encouraged by so many owner operators putting their hearts and souls into what they do and, if that is an indication of what it is to come, then we are heading in the right direction. I would like to see the growth of multi-disciplinary collaborations, shared spaces and on-going pop-ups with our extremely creativite neighbours. I'm very hopeful about the future of K' Road.
How did you end up in hospitality?
I've worked on and off in hospitality since the nineties, starting at El Inca, a South American nightclub on K Road. I was very fortunate to work with some very talented people hospitality legends at Cincin and Crow Bar, then Mollies, a boutique hotel, where I was a semi-retired pampered hospitality cat. I worked in hospitality throughout my architecture degree ..and afterwards too!!!
When I finished my degree I worked for a couple of local architectural firms but also kept working in hospitality. I found I was making more money from bars than from architecture and I loved the atmosphere/lifestyle of hospitality. I now think of both fields as an opportunity to create, and deliver, an experience.
Along with two close friends I opened Johnny Feedback, a hole-in-the-wall café on the corner of Pitt St and Beresford St. It was lots of fun and I could get amazing coffee at cost price!!! After we sold it, we renovated a heritage studio space on the corner of Pitt St and K' Road for our architecture & design studio space …. next stop, Madame George!!!
Your favourite spot on K' Road?
This is a real hard question!!! We have too many favourite spots on K' Road where we retreat for a coffee, go for a nice glass of wine, or to eat ..places to go for inspiration. We are very lucky to live in such a vibrant strip!!! Karangahape Road is very cool!!!
What motivates you?
Coffee!!! Yes, coffee!!!! Family, of course… but, yes, coffee!!! And, Fang, my wife, and her endless support.
Greatest influence on you?
Hands down, my father and my mother. I have been very blessed to meet many talented people throughout the years, who have been a massive inspiration and influence, but yes, all credit to mum and dad.
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