In November 2009, after several years of dinners and house parties held and thrown for family and friends, Elie and Micky took their dreams a step further, and decided to open a bar, diving into the hospitality industry.
A couple of months later, they found and secured a small space in a charming street of Hamra. In June, the first member of the family, Oscar Wilde, opened its doors. Oscar Wilde witnessed the era of the cocktail and mixology renaissance in Beirut. While it was influenced by the old school bartending practices, it rapidly took a different path thanks to its free-minded approach to this business.
The project took some time to shape up, but it turned out to be a great success. The founders still had their daytime jobs, but the place needed more attention. Elie took a leave from his job in March, and started structuring the operations at Oscar Wilde, testing the grounds of life outside his consulting job.
Few months later, it was the start of something new – the founders quit their jobs, confident Oscar Wilde was a solid stepping-stone into hospitality.
The family started to grow bigger. Elie and Micky struck up a friendship with then-bartender Yves that would later turn into a partnership at Kissproof. Then, Santana, the now famous principal bartender at Vyvyan’s, joined the family.
The next chapter was to be written in Mar Mikhael - a charming industrial neighborhood that would later become Beirut’s bar and nightlife hub. Elie and Micky launched Vyvyan’s, one of the first dive bars to open in Mar Mikhael. As the decade unfolded, Vyvyan's matured gracefully into an institution, with the boys in denim shirts who simply rock, remaining forever loyal to the place and the neighborhood.
Six months later, after a challenging final week of works, tastings, and trainings with Elie in the kitchen, the Wisors family’s first restaurant, The Happy Prince, opened its doors. It was one of the first restaurants to drive Mar Mikhael to the food and beverage scene in the neighborhood. The aim was to create an experience where food collides spectacularly with spirits, wines, and cocktails - and hospitality of course - in a casual and vibrant setting without pretense.
Six other months later, in December of 2013, a new bar-café, Kissproof, opened its doors in Badaro – it was the birth of the fourth member of the family in a calm neighborhood known for its vibrant past. The place was created to serve sophisticated bar food, elegant cocktails, and a wide variety of beers as an all-day gathering spot for locals and visitors alike.
Camille Njeim joined the group. Despite his little experience in hospitality, Camille rapidly showed eagerness and passion for the industry, specifically in bartending and its history, cocktails and mixes, and a true love for this craft. This knowledge coupled with an ever-present sense of fun and humor that he brought to Kissproof lead him to eventually become a Principal Bartender and Beverage Program Director at WHG.
It was crucial for the founders to structure and consolidate the organization behind Vyvyan’s, The Happy Prince, and Kissproof. They felt the need to create a management entity to centralize all kitchen preparation, administration, and back of house works. The central kitchen and offices were set and operational in August of this year, just across the street from The Happy Prince.
Oscar Wilde served its last drinks in September. Goodbye Hamra, we were grateful for all the good times and opportunities you gave us!
The group was looking to diversify their hospitality activities. They partnered up with Decks On The Beach, a clubbing group hosting international DJs for the summer, and took over the management of the bars and grills at the Sporting Club in Beirut for an entire summer. The deal was to make sure our family would be behind the bar, serving booze, house cocktails, and of course grilling the finest burgers in town.
Among the multiple activities including New Years Eve at Sama Beirut, Decks on The Beach Season 2, and many other private and family parties and events, The Happy Prince witnessed a glamorous revamp, allowing the restaurant to bloom once again.
In September, the Group organized an end of summer gathering for family and friends, relocating its operations to a beautiful public beach in Damour. A food, beverage and music program was organized in a mind-blowing setting far from the city, with the weekend culminating in a sunset dance party in an abandoned silk factory overlooking banana fields.
End of year, Kissproof was ready for a revamp, which boosted its energy to the next level.
Many surprises to be announced soon. The tragic events of the 4th of August destroyed our places, not our dreams!