Commotion, taste sensations in living room atmosphere
Lara (27) and Thomas (25) complement each other perfectly: as a former event manager, Lara turns every night into a mini-event, while chef Thomas, with a thorough obsession, devotes himself to preparing unusual taste explosions. Together they are the power duo behind Commotion in Ghent.
We met them in Ghent in their pop-up restaurant. Enjoy pure, good ingredients in an informal atmosphere, a unique experience'. For Lara and Thomas, that's the perfect evening out and that's exactly what this foodie couple offers their customers.
'When you step into Commotion, you find yourself in a living room. We receive our guests as a couple without additional staff. For an entire evening, we fulfill the role of hostess and host. Thomas often comes into the room and I walk into the open kitchen to dress plates. That creates a relaxed atmosphere, which our customers really appreciate.'
Green-tilicious! Temptation for inveterate meat-eaters...
Commotion's kitchen is not about mousses and gels. Here, pure, recognizable ingredients play the leading role. The menu features creamy out-of-the-box dishes with lots of vegetables. Thomas is so innovative with vegetables that even inveterate meat eaters are often most enthusiastic about the vegetable dishes, even though there is also meat and fish on the menu. His sauces are also renowned.
'We choose a concept of food sharing because it increases social interaction. Too often you see people at restaurants looking at their cell phones all the time. That happens much less here. In the Commotion restaurant, you really come to have a pleasant meal and share an experience 'together'.
Natural, natural wines, Lara hair rayon!
'There is always a five-course menu, with appetizers to share beforehand. On the wine list you'll find surprising natural wines. I consciously choose natural wines, which are even healthier and purer than organic wines: the grapes are not sprayed and no chemicals are used in the production process. With traditional wines, a lot of stabilizers like sulfite are added during fermentation. Natural wines have lower yields, which makes them not so interesting commercially. These wines come from passionate winemakers, who release limited editions. It even happens that they don't release a wine for a year. Many restaurants, in Scandinavian countries, nowadays serve almost exclusively natural wine.'
Smallness as a concept
It should be obvious that Lara and Thomas think about every detail. Make no mistake, they also have a strong vision when it comes to entrepreneurship. This is also evident from their genesis. They are both, what you might call, 'positively obsessed' with food and used to go out to restaurants quite often. They analyze each time, what works, what goes well and what does not. When a friend of Thomas' father suggested during a dinner that he had a building in Kortrijk that had been empty for a year, they spontaneously decided to start a pop-up restaurant there.
The hardest part was finding a suitable name. We had been thinking about a name for weeks, when a friend read something in the newspaper about the commotion surrounding the demolition of that building in Kortrijk. We thought the word 'commotion' suited us perfectly. Commotion means sensory sensation, setting something in motion, causing a stir.'
After a year in Kortrijk, Thomas and Lara opened a pop-up in their hometown of Ghent. They have been there for 2.5 years now. We consciously chose a building that is being demolished. That way we could command an advantageous rent. Now we have bought a building at the Ghent Dampoort. Quite an investment, but after 3.5 years we feel we are ready for it. In the new restaurant we will stick to our concept: a small living room restaurant, run by the two of us, without staff. At the new location, we will keep the restaurant open only three or four nights a week and focus even more on catering, both for individuals and companies.'
from first child steps to maturity...
Thomas and Lara came to Titeca through Emmanuel Titeca. 'We didn't know much about accounting, but our accountant Bryan always explains everything well. Bryan has been following us since our first steps as children. He is also a good customer: he regularly comes to eat at Commotie restaurant and is often present at our events. That personal contact is important to us. We now have such a good relationship with our accountant that we have remained customers in Roeselare, even though we now have a business in Ghent instead of Kortrijk. We work with a paper bookkeeping system that is automatically scanned at Titeca.
Titeca's advice goes far beyond just our bookkeeping. The SPE (specialists in tax, legal and financial advice) within Titeca, together with Bryan, prepared our investment analysis and put together our financial plan and credit file, so that the purchase of the property and obtaining a favourable credit were managed. Titeca takes a broader view and helps us think about the long term.
Cradled in entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is truly a calling for the couple. 'Entrepreneurship is improbably hard and incredibly fun. Sometimes we really wonder why we do it, because the work is never done. It's also not easy to work together all the time as a couple. But it really is a passion, an obsession according to friends. Our sleeping pattern has also changed, we no longer sleep fast because of the adrenaline that is constantly coursing through our bodies. Even if we have a day off, we are busy with the work. The nice thing, of course, is that as an entrepreneur you have everything under control.'
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