A fire is an awful thing. For the people who own the Stokehouse, they’ve just had a sliding doors moment; yesterday they were heading in that direction, and today they are dealing with an entirely different challenge. For the staff and chefs, there is a sense of disbelief, shock, rapidly followed by grief and a sense of profound and somewhat confusing loss. And all this is followed by (hopefully) a sense of determination to get everything back the way it was as quickly as possible.
Then comes the hardest part; once the first impact of the fire has passed, and in fact the adrenalin of the event and the endorphins from the wide support have died down, those that must decide are left with the reality of the challenge.
The reality requires working out what really got lost, what energy there is to rebuild, finding out why the fire really did happen, dealing with the investigation, authorities, permits, working out if insurance really covers the cost of rebuilding. Family discussions on whether they all have the energy to rebuild or whether it would actually be better to accept the insurance and do something different.
I know this because some years back our family went through the same event. Our family business was burnt down (massive fire at the time). It’s a horrible and exhausting process, but you do eventually get back what was lost.
However, I want to add some thoughts for the Stokehouse – owners, staff, and fans (as I am).
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve eaten at the Stokehouse – informally downstairs, on the spur of the moment, countless times upstairs for birthdays, engagements, celebrations. I, like countless others, have loved the location, the food, the mood, the crowd and the service. AND I am sure there are things I’d love to see done better.
So here’s my invitation: assuming the Stokehouse is to be rebuilt, why don’t the owners make use of the community love for the venue and its offerings. Structure the rebuild so we can all contribute – co creation at its best.
Find out what the community loved about the old and then find out how the new could be even better.
The Stokehouse location is at the heart of one of the best parts of Melbourne. I vote for making sure it continues to be there and I, for one, am more than happy to contribute in anyway I can to the new being better than the old.
Blog post written by Fabian Dattner, Partner, Dattner Grant