On the busy intersection of Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington’s Victoria and Wakefield Streets sits the wedge-like Mibar Building. It was designed in 1960 by Keith Cooper, of Structon Group, following a rather ritzy brief that specified “no expense be spared on materials”. With a waved canopy, curved windows and texture-rich facade, the unique building is an unusual and enduring example of expressive modernism. Now, hospitality veterans Sean Golding and Shepherd Elliott have opened Concord, a new ground-floor eatery in the corner of the building.
Inspired by 19th- and 20th-century bistros, the venue offers seasonal dishes, elegant wines and table-side cart service in an opulent setting. Fringed fabric lampshades hang low over tables, brown and orange patterned carpet blankets the floor, and red velvet accents, marble and brass add to the ambience. There’s a casual glamour to the place, a kind of luxury that’s more inviting than intimidating.
Can you touch on Concord’s aesthetic?
Sean Golding: I’m a Gen X-er, and I love the 20th century; it’s an era that gave us so much. So there are icons and moments in that time that inspired me. I’m not nostalgic, but I do appreciate experiences.
Who led the design?
I generally do all the design myself and have some great partners to reassure me about my vision. It’s an organic process that moves a lot from conception to completion, and my colleagues are very supportive of this.
What can we expect from the menu?
Shepherd has been working very hard to get this right. We want to have familiar-looking bistro food, but it has to be executed perfectly. A French/American style with a gracious approach.
How about the atmosphere?
It should still be fun, a celebration for customers. The carpet and velvet components will also ensure some luxury and chic.
What will people come back for?
I hope people will make it “their” place. That has seemed to work in my previous places and creates an authentic experience.
How does it feel to be opening in such an unknown climate?
Well, it might seem crazy to open a restaurant in this strange old world right now, but I’m extremely optimistic, and I want to be ready for people to start enjoying each other’s company again. One has to have a purpose, and I can’t imagine not doing this kind of thing forever.
81 Victoria Street, Te Aro, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington