Young Entrepreneur: Gillian Tweedie

Toronto is a hotbed for bars, lounges, and restaurants. With the myriad choices already available to young professionals, uniqueness is almost as tantamount to a new spot’s success as great drinks and impeccable service. Gillian Tweedie, a 30-year-old entrepreneur, responded to Toronto’s over-saturated market with Goodnight – Toronto’s first reservation-only bar that she started with partners Denny Lee and Matt George in July 2010. Read on to find out more about this ingenious woman.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell
Would you like a drink?

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
Goodnight was inspired by all of the great bars that my partners and I have visited around the world. We wanted to have a place at home where we could invite friends for good drinks, music and people.

How do people react to the concept of Goodnight?
Those who have visited the bar have loved the concept. We have created a unique space and our customers really appreciate all of the thoughtful elements that make up the overall atmosphere. Whether it be the rusty mattress springs looming over the owners’ booth, the sewing pattern wallpaper, or the vintage radiators under the bar, there are plenty of small design details to discover. Goodnight is the first reservation-only bar in the city and its somewhat hidden location and doorbell entry system has guests feeling like they are arriving at a friends house rather than a bar. We’ve built a cocktail list that focuses on old classics – both the traditional and the forgotten and our own house-designed cocktails.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I love the social aspect of my job. As the operating/managing partner, I spend a lot of time at the bar getting to know the interesting characters who pass through. As for the challenges…Nightlife is simply a challenging industry. Any bar owner will tell you the work day never stops, even when the doors are closed, there’s always more to do.

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
Five years from now I hope we are discussing the success of our second location.

What does success look like to you?
Success to me means that you’ve found a way to balance all of the things you love in your life. For me that means finding time to work, run, travel, and see friends and family.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
I think the reality of what we have accomplished with Goodnight really hit home last fall. We had only been in business a few months and had already received some amazing press (NYT’s T Magazine, Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, NOW, amongst others.) We had an incredible week during TIFF when we were packed wall-to-wall with actors, directors, musicians, and regulars, and we went into winter feeling like we had made an impact on Toronto.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Always conduct yourself in a professional and respectful manner; you never know who you might need to call on down the road.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Yes, I support a number of causes in a variety of capacities. I am presently raising funds for the United Way through the Scotiabank Rat Race and I regularly support the Canadian Diabetes Association through their Clothesline program. I sit on the Committee for the Ensemble Circle at the Canadian Opera Company, am a member of AGO Next and attend a number of arts fundraisers. I think it’s important to do what you can to give back to your community whether that means giving your time or your financial support.

What is Notable to you?
Notable to me is someone who pushes boundaries and inspires others.