At a time when restaurants are opening at a dizzying pace while others still struggle to survive, you need more than good food to thrive and regain momentum after a pandemic. It takes a little extra magic dust.
Marissa Hermer, who currently co-owns The Draycott, Olivetta and is a Boujis Group partner working on the massive Issima project at La Peer Hotel, says it takes more than working your tail off alongside a stellar team – so she has brought on the talents of international mystic Todd Savvas.
It’s not unusual for restaurateurs to enlist experts to help with getting the best flow and atmosphere to attract guests. When Craig’s in West Hollywood installed a water feature according to the advice of their feng shui expert, there was a measured uptick in business.
A self-taught spiritual teacher and mystic raised to be a prophet in the Pentecostal Christian church in his native Australia, Savvas has traveled the world blessing and cleansing spaces of negative energy.
The Gilbert Scott in London, an elegant, grand dining restaurant located in the 19th-century surrounds of St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in King’s Cross was one of his first assignments. Located in one of the oldest and most historic train stations prior to its massive renovation, there was quite a lot of energy that had to be addressed.
“I go into a space and get rid of any leftover bad energy and readjust the flow to create an energetic space for success and prosperity,” Savvas tells L.A. Weekly at the bar of The Draycott over fish and chips. “Buildings in Europe are of course very different because they are a lot older. There were decades of leftover old energy. When we work on cleansings and blessings, it’s a lot like vacuuming. We’re talking about buildings that are hundreds of years old, especially in London, that have just been sitting there stagnating. Especially with restaurants, people are coming in over lunch or dinner and are letting a lot of things go. What are you doing in a restaurant? You’re sitting down and you’re having a conversation – good or bad. You’re angry because you got stood up. All this high-intensity energy is being sent out into the space constantly over many years.”
After a string of bad luck, the restaurant’s general manager came to Savvas when the staff began having accidents both at home and at work.
“I had to go through this massively huge space to clear out generations of conflicting energy. When you go into a restaurant you are shedding stuff and taking on stuff and it’s good to clear the air. When you’re doing a cleansing or a blessing, the energy in the room is going to set the stage for the success of your business.”
It all starts with a reading from 30 of Savvas’ 444 personalized tarot cards as well as a tour of the space. When he met with Hermer in January of 2020, there were a few concerns she had about the location, like noise complaints from neighbors, so they worked on some cures to repel negative energy directed towards them. That involved things like salts, which are protectors as well as crystals and mirrors. They went through each and every room burning sage and palo Santo (called smudging) and said a prayer in each room. The function is designed to attract people who want to be in the space with a positive attitude. The readings are also meant to bring out the positive energy of the owner as well, which sets the tone from the top down among staff and customers.
“At Olivetta we anointed the door frames with enchanted oils and looked at every room to see if it needed any adjusting,” says Savvas. “One of the typical things in feng shui is we never want to have a toilet without a seat, because that represents money running out. So when we couldn’t adjust the fact there are no toilet seats in the bathroom, we got some red tape and taped it above the door frame. You can’t actually see that it’s there, but red is used to stop that flow from running right out of the actual restaurant itself to the bathroom and down the toilet. Those are some of the tricks and tweaks we use.”
Another blessing that comes with the mystic’s services with the opening of a restaurant is gifting the space with a Ganesha, the elephant god in Hinduism. It’s said to clear obstacles and be the creator of new beginnings and traditionally lives in the front of the house, maybe on the bar. It’s meant to act as a protector overlooking the entire space. Offerings like peaches, which represent abundance and immortality, as well as oranges and mangoes, which are opulent and rich fruits that represent the sweetness of life are made every day. The fruit is consumed later by the management team to spread love and good luck throughout the restaurant. A smudge and a cleansing are done on all the employees as well.
“He’s helped me stage every restaurant and taught me how to put vinegar in a bowl so if there’s a bad space or a dead space that bad spirit will get sucked up,” Hermer says of her spiritual teacher. “We put mirrors up so that if we have a cranky neighbor, that energy will get reflected right back at them. Every time that Todd has come on-site to all of our restaurants, the very next day we get this rush that includes popular celebrities. The crew jokes about it and bets who the next celebrity will be walking in the door the day after Todd visits. Opening a restaurant in Los Angeles is different from London. The Brits don’t brag about it when a celebrity or any of the royals come in. In America, that moves the needle.”
In Hermer’s very first reading, when she first opened Olivetta, he told her things were going to go amazing for about three months and then something would happen outside of her control and she would just have to let it all happen, but would recover in the end. That’s when the pandemic hit. Now it can take a month to get an Olivetta reservation.
“The truth is – do I believe in all of this?” says Hermer. “I don’t know. But we’re in the hospitality business which is a crazy industry to begin with. I’ll work my tail off, and take all the luck and magic that I can possibly get on top of that. Especially after a global pandemic, bring me that magic. I’m here for it.”