My Odessa: Oleg Nikolaev

My Odessa: Oleg Nikolaev

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THE ODESSA REVIEW NEW ISSUE

issue_september16

The socially active owner of the Frebule restaurant, the Make My Cake pastry shop and the White Whale coffee chain speaks about the newly reconstructed open air theater.

The Green Theater was created by my friends, and what they did is actually really cool. When we first came here with my wife, she was pregnant, and we really enjoyed it —  it is very quiet, calm, there is no dog walking there, no entertainment, and you can really feel peaceful. When you walk in, you leave the city and its rhythm behind, there are no problems, no “adultness.”

Literally three hundred meters from the Green Theater, on January 14, 2006, my future wife and I shared our first kiss on our first date. And last summer, we worked through all our “pregnant” days, so whenever we could go outside and relax, we would go to the Theater. Here we could just unplug, lie on the grass and spend a pleasant day off. Now we have a daughter, Veronica, and given how old she will be in the spring and summer, actively crawling around, I am looking forward to spending time at the Theater again. My child will be safe here, walking on her own feet.

When local festivals such as Gesheft take place here, we take part in them and try to give our team the opportunity to show themselves. Now we don’t work at festivals so much, we let our staff do it. People come to people — this is one of our main criteria. We really want our customers to learn to respect the craft professions, where everything is made by hand.

The theater has become a special place for families and will soon join our lineup of company locations. This season we’ll introduce the “White Whale in the Forest” — a combination of two of our projects, the White Whale which already exists now, and “Forest House of Culture”, which had closed. All the furniture will come from there — bungalows, lampshades, armchairs.

A lot of our friends work or meet up here. Green Theater is a great example of urban space, encouraging people to think about what surrounds them. It is an example of what can happen if you create a place where you, your children, and your relatives can be comfortable.

Last year we created an ambitious project to redesign a small part of the French Boulevard around the Frebule restaurant, and got permission to do it. It wasn’t just putting tiles in place of old pavement, or the installation of a trash can and a bench. We turned to the guys who implemented the “Occupy Zhukova” project and, based on world experience, drew up a plan where the territory is organized for the comfort of everyone: bicycle riders, parents with strollers and so on. “Occupy Zhukova” was a great initiative, and the White Whale cafe was the focal point where everyone met — volunteers, urbanists, and neighbors.

Before opening the restaurant in 2015, we took a car trip through Europe and drove  around visiting all our friends who had emigrated. We saw how the Europeans develop their coffee houses and restaurants, and realized that we have to work much harder. But here at home, we received a positive response and feedback in our direction, and we understood that we have to put in the maximum effort to create something great around ourselves. I am an Odessite, I am comfortable living and working here. I am in tune with the city space, with its rhythm, and I love the openness of Odessan residents.

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