Natural structures, organic growth and authenticity
Text: Lorraine Hoffmann
When thinking about wood, many of the inherent characteristics of this material immediately come to mind. One thinks of structure, natural growth, and to some, associations such as retreating into peaceful nature may also come to mind. Many of these mental associations probably also came to mind for the founders of the Woods, some before, others perhaps rather after the opening of the cosy cocktail bar in the middle of Cologne's Friesenstraße.
The founders and owners of the bar are Thilo Heyer, Matthias Gerber, Marc Lehmann and Simon Bach, all four "homegrown" members of the WiSo faculty. Lehmann, Bach and Heyer decided to study business administration, the latter additionally completed a Master' s degree in Corporate Development, while Gerber graduated in Business Information Technology.
All four met during their studies at the WiSo faculty and were actively involved with the student council. When Heyer, Gerber and Lehmann got together to organise the popular Cologne student party series "Le Debut", it was soon clear that the next natural step in their collaboration would be to continue in the same direction. Thus, from 2017, Le Debut Event GmbH became Blueprint Events & Services GmbH, which, in addition to organising and carrying out events, is increasingly active in festival module construction and shop design. Meanwhile Bach discovered his love for cocktails and mixing them when working in various bars in Cologne. After some conversations all four agreed that they wanted to tackle the dream of their own cocktail bar together.
Through our work as organizers of 'Le Debut' and in the student council, we have been able to maintain many contacts and many helpers and employees are now members of the WiSo.
While Heyer, Gerber and Lehmann act as partners in the background and played a major role in the interior design, Bach as bar manager and managing director has been taking care of the day-to-day business and operations with four other employees since the opening in April 2019.
During the collective development of the concept, all four found a clear basic direction. The bar should be cosy, the guests should find themselves in a pleasant atmosphere and the work of all should be characterised by individual advice in the selection of cocktails and a closeness to the guests. Everything had a story to it, nothing was left to chance in the design and any association with the word "generic" should be forgotten when entering the bar. So the USP was not just to focus on a particular spirit or a specific offer, but a coherent overall concept up to the smallest detail was intended to convince.
As with the material that gave the bar its name, it was important to everyone that natural resources were used, both in the composition of the individual cocktail creations, which took more than 100 hours of work, and in the final design of the bar. The fact that visually many wood tones have been incorporated into the design of the rooms fits symbolically as well into the overall concept of the bar as the elaborately designed ceiling with wooden waves contributes to the cosy ambient.
What sets us apart is that we not only want to offer a first-class drink, but also provide an ambience and tell the story of the love of spirits.
With so much planning and good thinking, it is hardly surprising that all four of them have come up with a well thought-out solution even during the still ongoing corona crisis, not only to be able to continue with their day-to-day business, but also to work on allowing their customer structures to grow naturally. The popular "Dringeblieben" format on Instagram gave Woods the opportunity to stream "Woods ON AIR" live every Friday and thus cocktail courses into many people's living rooms, not only to maintain presence but also to provide entertainment, constant customer contact and the natural growth of their customer base.
The cocktail courses are of particular importance not only because they give Woods the opportunity to offer its cocktail boxes and sets, but also to consistently pass on its claim to its own quality standards and to be able to impart profound cocktail knowledge.
It was important to us that we did not have to part with any of our employees during the crisis so far and to continue to do something that fits in well with our concept.
And the first-class nature of the bar is not only reflected in its range of products, but has already earned itself a reputation beyond Germany's borders. Thus Bach proudly tells of guests who came from Basel and visited the Woods based on the recommendation of a Basel bartender. A compliment that is gladly heard, and one that many other visitors to the bar would probably sign as well. The audience of the bar, located on one of the busiest party streets, consists of tourists from the surrounding hotels, but also of business people and students. Everyone appreciates the quiet atmosphere of the bar, which is almost experienced as an oasis in the middle of the hectic nightlife.
The most interesting question is of course how the Woods manages to attract so many different interest groups. The location does of course play a role, but the owners claim that they too continue to benefit from WiSo's strong network. So all four of them not only found help when it came to the graphic design of the homepage or needed photos, but also an audience interested in good and elaborately created cocktails could be won over to WiSo.
And so from now on the theme runs through: natural structures, organic growth and authenticity. So it is not surprising that "Woods" is the suitable name for a wonderful bar that constantly invites you to feel good.