Funky – unconventional and out of the box
Nanna – doing things well and with love
There are many people who fit this bill and are definitely what I call Funky Nannas.
I share their stories here with you in the hope that their journey and passion will encourage you to be bold and live a life that is true.
So, an Immigration Lawyer, turned Property Developer, turned Hotelier, turned Food Establishment Owner and Hospitality guru does not typically make a Funky Nanna. On paper there’s nothing typically Funky or Nanna-like, about Damian Griffiths. I had the pleasure of delving deeper into the man at The QLD State Library for “Gamechangers “ a Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame initiative. A Funky Nanna was certainly revealed.
Damian grew up in Dalby on a grain farm where the seed of hospitality was planted. Farm life ingrained in him a sense of being approachable, of getting on well with your neighbours and an indelible appreciation of community spirit. It also granted him a certain naive charm that fed his ability to take risks.
An early career as an Immigration lawyer was somewhat risk free and this entrepreneurial spirit, this innate Funkiness needed an outlet. He began buying properties and renovating for profit. His attitude to risk was that he didn’t think about it too much, he didn’t believe he had a lot to lose. His responsibility to himself, was to grab every opportunity presented with the realistic notion that nothing is easy, EVERYTHING comes with a struggle.
Damian began his foray into the niche world of Hospitality development with The Limes Hotel. An untouchable site was procured at the right price. He had no initial plans but to create a boutique hotel that set the standard for quirky budget stays. It was wonderful to hear stories shared of the Bank only being able to lend a third of his initial establishment figure. Stories of his overcoming spirit, to find ways to make it happen. To hear the importance of including his suppliers and staff in his determination to push through. I felt a real sense of pride in his attitude, in his desire to be unconventional and totally live out of the box.
This drive that he has, to seize every opportunity without necessarily having a plan, is what has led him to procure other sites on the same strip as The Limes. His method of madness is to purchase the site at the first opportunity, then an appraisal begins to envisage the potential and the “feel” of the site. Damian is then content to sit and research his ideas until every last detail of the concept, team, interiors, menus, every last detail, is formed without a fear of changing direction if need be.
His staff are carefully selected, who possess the same hospitable philosophy, people skills and attitude. Workplace skills aren’t necessarily important initially, as Damian is of the opinion that those can be taught, but passion in his staff is driven from within. He engenders creativity from them by being passionate, by showing trust and confidence, by being upfront and personal and modelling those characteristics. This is the Nanna part of Damien Griffiths. As he speaks about the spirit inside his empire of bricks and mortar,including Alfred & Constance, Alfredo’s, Chester St Bakery and most recently Kwan Bros, there is revealed a genuine desire for himself and others representing him to do things with love, and to do everything well.
His intention has never been to create an entertainment precinct in The Valley. His only intention has been to achieve and leave an indelible mark by doing new things in Brisbane’s fresh landscape.
He admitted that another project will commence at the end of 2014. A site has been secured in an “undesirable” location and he is currently enjoying the process of planning its’ incarnation into another “desirable” venue.