Five with Fox: Jamie Hazeel, Little Door & Co
5 - Minute Read
Five short questions with the current movers and shakers of food, drink and design. We spoke to Jamie Hazeel, the managing director of Little Door and Co, a bar group that creates venues styled around house parties and fictional flat shares.
The business started in late 2014 with the infamous pop-up, The Little Yellow Door, above Notting Hill Gate tube station. Within weeks it had become a knock out success – and ended up continuing for two and a half years. Off the back of this, investment was raised to populate London’s streets with multicoloured doors and Little Door & Co’s unique take on having a good time. The Little Blue Door in Fulham was opened in 2018, followed by the re-incarnation of the Little Yellow Door in Notting Hill in 2019, and finally, despite the pandemic, The Little Orange Door on Clapham Common in 2020.
Before all things Little Door related, Jamie had a pop-up restaurant and catering company, The Wandering Chef, which specialised in high end, immersive experiences – the highlight of which was a week-long pop-up to launch a new season of Game of Thrones for HBO.
1. What are the best things about being part of the hospitality industry? And what are the worst?
The best thing about being part of the hospitality industry is the incredible people you meet on your journey – and the amazing bonds you make with them along the way. When it’s done right, the team behind a venue, or a group of venues, becomes a family, and the space becomes their home. Fostering that spirit is what gives me the most pleasure and pride – as every other part of the business really stems from that. The worst part is how many challenges and hurdles young and growing businesses like ours face – especially with the terrible fall out from pandemic.
2. What sparked the concept of the little door bars?
The original founding team had a background in West London hospitality and night life – and were all a bit jaded by it. Against that backdrop, we thought, what could be more beautiful and refreshing than inviting people into our home. After all that is the essence of hospitality! And house parties, as everyone knows, are always the best parties. Everything else flowed from those thoughts– and a slight cheeky, tongue in cheek creative spirit – an understanding that going out was about having fun, and not taking anything too seriously.
3. The bars have a very unique concept and interior - can you tell us more about how you put this together?
The original bar was opened on an absolute shoe string. We had almost no money but wanted to create the most inviting, welcoming, fun filled space we could. So we spent a few weeks scouring markets, regional auction houses and even our own homes. Now the process is much more evolved and developed! We write stories of who would live in the space if it were an actual flat, going into huge amounts of detail – their favourite drinks, what coffee table books they would have, what music they’d listen to on their way to work, how they know each other, what their friends are like and so on. This story is never shown to the wider world but it forms the creative basis for a new site – and provides the brief for the interiors, the designers, the social media team, the branding, the drinks team, the kitchen. We believe that helps us create venues that are distinctly our own but which slip perfectly into their neighbourhoods.
4. You’ve recently opened a third permanent site, The Little Orange Door - what’s your secret to maintaining London’s attention?
I think what we do isn’t complicated! As I said above, we truly believe that house parties are the best parties- and that they are never going to go out of fashion! Our venues are quirky and unusual - and filled with interesting touch points and experiences – everything from working N64s to fancy dress boxes, from Beer Pong tables to real entrance halls and laundry rooms. Those are things that people love to talk about. It’s all in the spirit of fun. But at the end of the day, we have created spaces where people feel as welcome and relaxed as they could in someone’s home and that’s the really amazing thing.
5. What’s your favourite cocktail? .. and why?
I love a great Whisky Sour – we do a particularly good one called “Mad Men” with red vermouth added. I also love a Daquiri. Toti Rum makes a splendid one, and that’s a firm favourite with our bartenders - often downed in one and called a “Snack-iri”! But my favourite cocktail is probably a Campari, grapefruit and tonic because it’s so tart and refreshing. Also, it’s a long cocktail and I drink short punchy ones far too fast for my own good!