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In the far north of the country, there’s a little tiki bar making a big noise — here, Flamingos Tiki Bar co-owner Andrew Pare talks to Sam Bygrave about how they got the project up off the ground and why they love tiki.

 

What’s behind the name?
We were trying to think of a name that would play with the whole tropical vibe of the bar and at the same time be super playful and welcoming; we landed on Flamingos. Who doesn’t love flamingos?

How long did it take for the project to open after you had the initial idea?
We found the space late 2017 and began serious talks early 2018. By July 2018 we had taken over the the space and began converting it into our hidden tropical oasis. The space had been empty for over 7 years and was being used as storage at the time. It was in pretty rough shape but we had a vision. It was a full fit out and we did all the renos ourselves except for the electrical and plumbing. 

We opened our doors December 1st, 2018 and it’s been an amazing journey ever since.

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Being outside of a metropolitan area, are there any challenges you face in getting stock? How do you overcome these?
It does happen from time to time where our local suppliers may be out of some stock but in all honesty they are pretty on the ball and do a great job communicating with us. We do need to stay on top of our stock as some product needs to get sent up from Brisbane and can take a little longer. Where we run into more issues is [with] some of our less common rums. With over 150 rums on the shelf we pull from all sorts of suppliers around the country and overseas. We have some great support and have built amazing relationships with these suppliers. I guess we’ve been a bit lucky in that sense.

How does the bar fit into the local area?
Flamingos screams tropical! People come to the tropics and want that tropical experience. We are here to give locals and tourists exactly that; whether you’ve just spent the day on the Great Barrier Reef or just drove back from an afternoon in the Daintree Rainforest what better way to unwind than with an exotic cocktail in hand, listening to some island tunes with a chilled out vibe.  Also, here in Cairns we are lucky to have so much great local tropical produce like pineapple, mangoes, limes and so much more that we can use. You can taste the freshness.

What has the reaction from the public been like so far?
December 1st, 2019 we celebrated our first birthday. We cannot express enough how lucky we are to have so much love and support from our locals and tourists that come in and spend time with us from all over the world. Cairns was calling for a tropical/tiki bar. 

There were no rum bars in the area, no tropical themed bars here in the tropics and no tiki bars north of Brisbane. We were hoping the people of Cairns would want these things and we were right.

How did you go about finding the right staff for the bar?
Across all of our venues in the Hospo Group we pride ourselves on our staff. Our business is nothing without them. We strive to give genuine, warm hospitality at all times. For us, it’s more important to find the right personality to fit our group and venues. When time came, we did a call out to our local Cairns hospitality community page. We had an amazing response and were able to find the right staff for the venue. 

Flamingos offers a very warm welcome from the second you walk through the doors. A genuine smile and conversation follows as we prepare the cocktail perfect for you. Finding the right person for the job can be challenging up here in FNQ, but we have been very lucky attracting some of the best in the region.

Can you tell us a bit about the thoughts behind the cocktail list?
The main thing with the Flamingos cocktail list is to make each beverage as interesting and fun as possible. Getting inspiration from classic tiki cocktails, and coming up with our own FNQ inspired drinks. We try to use as much fresh produce as possible, keeping in mind what will be in season. Also, sustainability is key and we need to play to our audience. We have a huge range of cocktail drinkers up here in FNQ from first timers to seasoned vets. Most of all, our cocktail list delivers fresh, creative concoctions in elaborate vessels with heaps of love and theatre.

Why tiki? What do you love about it?
We’ve always been massive fans of the tiki world and the idea of escapism and creating an atmospheric experience for our guests. That, mixed with a love of all things rum and a hole in the FNQ market, it was a no brainer. Tiki offers people a first class experience with the laidback island vibes that can be approachable by anyone. Wether you are a cocktail fanatic or someone who has just walked in off the street you can feel welcomed and comfortable while getting a topnotch drink. Since the dawn of tiki people have been escaping the day to day grind, sitting back and relaxing with a fresh, exotic, rum filled cocktail. 

We love keeping that tradition alive.