Emily and Brian are the owners of Tomahawk Bar in South Brisbane – a craft beer bar that is proving to be a welcome addition to the South Bank drinking and dining scene.
The couple met online seven years ago. “We exchanged a few emails and I had nothing to do one Sunday and so I decided to call Brian,” Emily says. The pair had “one extraordinarily awkward conversation” which somehow ended up with them organising to see the Sidney Nolan exhibition that was on at the time. A Chicago native, Brian had only been in the country for about two weeks at this point. “We met at the exhibition and once I got there, I actually ended up spending the whole time trying to avoid Brian because I thought he was really handsome,” Emily laughs. Brian took from this that Emily was ‘just not that into him’ and thought, this really isn’t going to work out. As it turns out, it did. That date turned into a day-long rendezvous and pretty soon the pair were inseparable.
Emily grew up in a little town in northern New South Wales hinterland called The Channon and went to school in Brisbane. University took her to Sydney and then, like most young Australians, overseas travel beckoned.
Brian grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in a place called Glen Ellyn, went to University and then backpacked for a while afterwards before studying his MBA in London. Bartending paid Brian’s bills while he was in London which may have sparked his interest in hospitality. His studies lead him back to the homeland however, and he settled in San Francisco where he stayed for a number of years. “I then had an opportunity to come out to Brisbane. And I didn’t like it at first; it was just so different to San Francisco and what I was used to but … that was 2008 and here I am, still,” Brian says.
Emily was the first person Brian met through the vast world that is internet dating and the couple have been together now for seven years. Emily is also sporting a lovely diamond on her left hand – a testament that internet dating certainly can work …
The couple returned from a stint in Abu Dhabi at the end on 2011 with a “crazy idea to open up a bar”. And thus Tomahawk Bar was born. As was their son, Tobin, now six months old and the apple of the duo’s eye. “Funnily enough, just days out from opening the bar, Emily went into labour,” Brian says with a smile. Tobin was two weeks overdue at the time and the couple were hoping he would stay put until they had finished the fitout at Tomahawk and opened the bar. “My doctor was threatening me with induction but I kept saying ‘no, I’ve got too much still to do before the bar opens!’ I guess Tobin had other ideas,” Emily laughs.
The couple live in Windsor with their two dogs and their special little guy who I had the great pleasure of cuddling while we shot the photograph for this story.
Words by Allie Gilfedder. Images by Leah Desborough.