I got the chance to sit down with brothers Jasper, Ludo and Celeste - the team behind Auckland hotspots Kiss Kiss and Happy Boy. We got to talking about their journey in the hospitality industry so far and a sneak peek at their new restaurant, Love Exposure. Serving up Vietnamese comfort food and decked out in neon lights - it promises to deliver food packed full of flavour and a vibrant atmosphere to match it. 


Have the three of you always been in hospitality industry?

Jasper and Ludo worked in hospitality both in Auckland and Melbourne, Celeste had never worked in hospitality before opening our first cafe.

After working in different restaurants and running your own what made you want to open your first restaurant which ended up becoming Kiss Kiss?

So our first restaurant, Chinoiserie, which was next door to L’oeuf, it gave us a taste of what we could bring to the restaurant game and definitely set us on a path of night time restaurants as apposed to cafe. We instantly felt like we could be more adventurous with our interiors, the music and generally just push our creativity.

Did the inspiration for the menu come from travelling through Thailand or just a love for it's food?

The inspiration behind any menu we do is never based on simply one thing. I think the biggest thing for us is considering the space we have found and trying to understand what type of food would work well in it. The location also plays a big part. For us, the very open space of Kiss Kiss lent itself to a market-like space. We had been working with Chef Erk who was Thai and was going to be our head chef so he really helped set us on that path too.

You described Love Exposure to me as Kiss Kiss’ crazy younger sibling. What kind of differences should customers expect between the two?

With Love Exposure, we have really gone back to basics in terms of our set up. The restaurant already had a kitchen so because there was no major build we were able to do everything ourselves. This means that the interior and design has really been pushed in a direction that feels very personal. I think in terms of colour and vibrancy, we have turned the dial up with this one. The food itself is going to be Vietnamese with a small but concise menu. 

It sounds like the atmosphere and experience that you’re creating at Love Exposure is important, what are the keys to achieving that?

When you are designing a space yourself and you don’t come from an interior design background - you work in quite a different way. Rather then designing a concept, you have to be very flexible and just see where things go. In our case, we'll just jump in and make a big decision like what colour are we painting? We then go and buy something like a leopard figurine off TradeMe and somehow we have to make that work. We then buy some mermaid scale fabric and cover our cushions with it. I think it's probably the most important part of how we work. It ties us intently to our projects and ensures our spaces have a soul when they open.

You’ve come back to Dominion Road to open the new restaurant. What is it about the area that keeps luring you back in? 

Dominion road is our favourite part of Auckland. It has an incredible energy and connects so many wonderful suburbs along it's route. We really feel like our businesses work here and slot in harmoniously with the community around us. You'll be hard pressed to find us hanging anywhere else.


Check out Love Exposure on 191 Dominion Road, Mount Eden. To keep up with their journey, you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram



Nah Zone