The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: Melbourne local, Steve Vallas — September 24, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Steve Vallas

This fortnight, Matt Scrafton interviews Steve Vallas – one of the first hospitality vendors to embrace and actively use social media (especially in the wee hours of the morning!) and reach out to the local community.

It started with Honey Smacks

Name: Steve Vallas, “The everyman”
Twitter handle: @thehoneybar
Works at: The Honey Bar in South Melbourne

What a day to conduct my first ever interview for The Fetch!  On a cold, wet, miserable Tuesday afternoon I find myself not in the best of spirits as I venture across town to meet Steve Vallas, owner of the Honey Bar.

Who is Steve Vallas?

Steve is the first to admit that he’s a little different. By his own admission he is an outsider. He is the face of Honey Bar. An inviting and warm bar in South Melbourne that’s done what few other bars have managed to do – beat the GFC.

A first generation Greek Australian, Steve’s positivity and outlook are infectious. His journey through life itself is a remarkable parallel to how the Honey Bar took shape. His school report read larrikin yet Steve graduated from Monash University with a double degree in Economics and Law. With a successful career in Commercial Litigation and Insolvency underway, Steve became tired at picking at the carcasses. A family tragedy as the catalyst, he quit, seeking more – a desire to build something.

Taking life’s breaks when then came, Steve was quick to roll up his sleeves to wash dishes by day, build his bar management experience by night and in between, drive taxis to keep the money rolling in. Slowly but surely his vision began to take shape.

Honey Bar came to life just as the GFC struck. It’s managed to outlast its competitors through Steve’s interest in people. Working in hospitality one would take that as a given but Steve is more than interested: he thrives on connecting people.  Not only through social media (you will often find Steve on Twitter, morning, noon and night) but also in person. His personal resilience and the importance he attaches to reciprocity are evident. Supporting startups, charities and non-profit making causes, the Honey Bars venue space is booked out every Friday and Saturday of the year.

We are all guilty of marching through life with blinkers on. Yet Steve has, and continues to use the pauses that life offers to reflect. You will often find him walking on a beach in atrocious weather or stepping outside to see and hear life in South Melbourne.

A long-suffering Tigers Fan, Steve places immense importance on family and friends. Surrounding yourself with positive people is key for Steve. Tight lipped on his next on-line venture, one can’t help but be inspired by his overwhelming sense of authenticity.

I hear you asking; where did the inspiration behind the name ‘Honey Bar’ come from? Honey Smacks at a kid’s birthday party.

The Honey Bar is a bar that, despite living in the neighbourhood for almost five months now, I have to confess I’ve yet to frequent. I will definitely be back.

Here’s to Honey Smacks and the everyman.

Interview: Melbourne local, Salvatore Malatesta — August 12, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Salvatore Malatesta

This week, I got in some quick questions with well-known serial Australian hospitality entrepreneur/coffeepreneur Sal Malatesta (the man behind St Ali, St Ali London, My Mexican Cousin, Sensory Lab, etc etc etc). I first met Sal in 2009 when I was working in South Melbourne and did most of my meetings out of St Ali, thereby becoming the Foursquare Mayor, which was complete novelty factor back then. Not one to miss a trend, Sal reached out and I’ve been watching him mash social media with cafe culture ever since. He’s now followed by over 6000 people (organic) on Twitter, launching new stuff all the time and still in possession of his quirky humour. Check out our convo below…

Sal by Tim Carrafa for the Herald Sun

Name: Salvatore Malatesta
Twitter: @St_ali
Works: What does that mean?

From Sensory Lab to My Mexican Cousin, what are you working on at the moment?

The opening of St Ali North, our new roasting plant and digivore – a little it/social media thingy.

ST ALi is often seen as a hospitality pioneer for its adoption of social media, especially being one of the first users of Foursquare – how important is technology now in business?

Critical!!! I feel like I know my customers intimately and communicate to the as I would friends. I love it.

You sometimes act as an angel investor around town – what business opportunities do you look for?

Triple line report:

1. Excitement, 2. Fun, 3. Profit. The most important thing is the people involved in the project. Good people = fun project

You studied Arts/Law at Melbourne – what impact did you education have on your success to date, if any?

Peeps think I am smart because I have a law degree. Not true! I am smart full stop lol. It’s been great for negotiations and understanding machinations of contracts.

You’re a positioning machine who really understand trends – how do you make your decisions about direction?

I wish I could tell you I conducted serious due diligence and market surveys. But I don’t. 100% gut

You’ve mastered the art of the personal brand, how does this help your greater brand portfolio?

It is not intentional Salvatore Inc is just an extension of my life. I have always shared it with friends and now with anyone who cares to follow. Its been great for business. People know me before I meet them. So the haters don’t meet me and the lovers do! It’s like a friend filter or maybe for those who date online (I don’t) a RSVP filter.

How much coffee should busy-professionals drink a day? 😉

No less than five. It keeps you alert and its way cheaper than Colombian love wink, wink.

What do you think of hipsters?

Mmm… the philosophical underpinnings are generally sound. Fringe. Challenging etc but too often they tend to be cartoon charactures of themselves. And that makes them funny and harmless. True hipsters – as in trend setters – 100% respect NYC.

What was your first job?

Selling Four N’ Twenty pies at the MCG as a 10 year old.

What’s your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood/locality?

Wow! hard choice. I live in three because of my special circumstance (long story) – Elwood, Toorak and Collingwood and all three offer very different cool things. Beach. The Tan. Culture in that order.

What’s next and when do you stop? 

I stop when I die. Will sleep a log time then. What’s next is a secret – in keeping with the brand.

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