Revving up at Joe’s Garage

Revving up at Joe’s Garage

All good ideas start with a beer, and a beer with (now-business partner) Tim Lawrence is exactly what led to Datum Projects founder Seth Gleeson’s new venture: Joe’s Garage Silverdale. 

With Tim ready for a new challenge and Seth keen to develop another business, they looked at whether they would start a Lonestar franchise – but after talking to the master franchisees, they realised that Joe’s Garage would be a much better fit for the locale. They set out to create a Joe’s Garage in a fantastic new space in Silverdale. 


Franchising the brand; localising the design

It would have been weird if Seth had gone with anyone else for the fit-out, so the Datum team was responsible for turning Joe’s Garage from that beer-fuelled idea into an awesome bar and restaurant. Before the Datum team could start on the fit-out, however, Seth and Tim had to finalise the design.

“We had seen other Joe’s Garage fit-outs and knew what we liked and didn’t at those,” shares Seth. “Then, once we got the standard design from the head franchisee, we worked on changing what we wanted.”

The design for every Joe’s Garage is based on an existing brand (one with a pretty intense cult following), so they knew they couldn’t change too much – the master franchisee wasn’t keen on their idea of theming it around classic muscle cars, for example! But as the first Joe’s Garage in Auckland, they wanted to refine the concept and give it more of a local feel.

A better understanding of client challenges

The project gave our team plenty of challenges – including a seven week fit-out that was squashed into a five week fit-out due to development delays! Luckily, we’re used to that, and made it happen anyway. 

Although we had to keep a tight rein on the work and all sub-contractors to prevent any delays, everything was done in time for opening – even the remedial work.

And the end result is absolutely awesome – a lively, engaging space with plenty to see. Although Seth and Tim couldn’t get the old muscle car idea past the master franchisee, they still managed to tie in fun features like the Chevvy V8 small block engine transformed into beer taps. Other unique touches include the odd friend pictured on tables throughout the restaurant, and a takeaway window designed so that the business can keep running if the country goes back to Alert Level Two at all.

A client’s perspective

Since experiencing a fit-out from the client’s perspective, Seth says he has a new appreciation for the pressures that clients are under.

“It reminded me that as a client, you’re not just thinking about the fit-out,” says Seth. “You’re also worrying about what happens whether the stock will arrive on time, how you’ll merchandise, whether the gas and other utilities will be working properly, training the staff… The list goes on!

“It has made me even more aware of why we need to consistently ask ourselves ‘What more can I do to alleviate that pressure?’ and make the experience easier during what can be an intense time.”

It also gave him a new appreciation for just how great the Datum team is. 

“Turns out having the boss as a client makes for an interesting experience – and not always a fun one,” laughs Seth. “I’m sure it was tough for both Alan (the Project Manager) and the whole factory team, but they did an awesome job.”

Since opening in May 2021, Joe’s Garage has already been chocka with customers who are loving not just the food and drinks, but the fit-out too. If you haven’t been there yet, pop in for a meal or a drink – you might even spot Seth at the bar once in a while!