Corbett & Claude: the beginnings of a hospitality empire

9 Apr 2018

Tim Johnson has built his career in hospitality and after some time in other cities, returned to Brisbane to begin building his hospitality empire. He’s the hands-on Director of two brands making waves on the local scene.

Corbett & Claude has quickly grown to four locations across two states, celebrating food, drink and the connection that comes with sharing a meal and a table. Comuna Cantina is a colourful Latin street food inspired Mexican restaurant with one location in the Brisbane CBD and a second on the Gold Coast.

Accolades have started to accumulate for Tim and his restaurants, with the most recent being named finalists for the Entertainment Gold Awards in the category of Cafe and Bistro Dining. Corbett & Claude made the list for Brisbane while Comuna Cantina was honoured on the Gold Coast. These awards are voted on by Entertainment Book Members with the winning businesses picked by their most important critic—their customers.

We asked Tim some questions about the Corbett & Claude brand and his passion for music.



You were recently awarded Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Hospitality and Tourism category. From all accounts it was a hotly contested field – congratulations on the win! What is it about hospitality that you love so much?

Thank you so much! I began working in hospitality when I was 13 and now over 20 years later I am every day more and more excited about being involved in the industry. I’m constantly learning every day, the days are so varied and I love the vibe of the venues when the team is humming!

The first Corbett & Claude restaurants are all in Brisbane, with the fourth and newest venue in Rhodes, Sydney. You’ve got the makings of an empire. Was there a reason you started building in South East Queensland?

I grew up here and knew the hospitality environment a lot closer than other cities. I also love the weather and vibe of Brisbane. The other cities are great however Brisbane is definitely my favourite place to live. 

The Corbett & Claude brand is built upon a passion for sharing stories and food with friends. What do you feel are the most important elements in a restaurant for enhancing connection and community between customers?

We feel that apart from the physical design and layout of the venue the way people feel comfortable connecting is through the nature of the vibe we create – our service is warm and friendly and the music we play creates a fun and upbeat social ambience encouraging people to literally move tables together to make new friendships mid-way through their meals!

Corbett & Claude's award-winning pizzas are perfect for sharing
Corbett & Claude’s award-winning pizzas are perfect for sharing

Let’s talk pizza – one of the only foods everyone has tried, and it’s universally loved. You and your team took out the Pizza Restaurant category for Queensland and Northern Territory late last year (in the prestigious Savour Australia Restaurant and Catering HOSTPLUS Awards for Excellence). What’s the key to a perfect slice?

Oh such a good question! It has to start with the perfect base – fresh, light and little bit crunchy on the crust. We then use the highest quality and freshest ingredients we can find to top it off.

Atmosphere is a big part of a memorable dining experience and all your venues play their tunes from the Nightlife Music platform. Furthermore, you and your team use our Manage My Nightlife app to review and alter the vibe on the fly if needed. You’re very hands-on with the music – which artist or genre are you digging at the moment?

Changing to Nightlife was literally one of the turning points in our business. It has enabled us to take our professionalism and consistency of experience to the next level.

I have a really mixed taste in music and like to change the style depending on what mood I’m in or am trying to create. Just recently I spent the afternoon chilling out listening to a Frank Ocean inspired radio playlist that was just perfect!

The Corbett & Claude team is very hands-on with the music
The Corbett & Claude team is very hands-on with the music

It’s widely acknowledged that sharing a meal is the ultimate barrier breaker when it comes to bringing people together. We believe that music comes a close second, and can evoke a time, a place and the people you shared it with. We’d love your recommendations on the best song for the following scenarios:

To represent Corbett & Claude’s hospitality teams: ‘Working For It’ – Zhu

To accompany a roaring dinner party with friends: ‘All Night’ – Chance the Rapper

While taking the dog for a late afternoon stroll: ‘Callin Out’- Lyrics Born

 

You can find Corbett & Claude at the following locations:

Elizabeth St, Brisbane CBD | Indooroopilly | Garden City | Rhodes

You can find Comuna Cantina at the following locations:

Brisbane CBD | Gold Coast


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