Above: Harbo longs for gloating days of the Celtic Tiger, when it was all Bertie Ahern and clanking champagne glasses in painful chrome covered nightclubs. Shudder. Picture lifted from our friends at Come Here To Me.
Lovin’ have been bravely traversing establishments with potentially ‘dodgy’ clientele – so you don’t you have to – for years now. It’s their MO, their thing, their yoke that they do be doing. But what drives them? Paulie Doyle brings us this profile of the one known as Harbo.
Lovin’s founder, Harbo (born ‘Harbo’, to Mr and Mrs Harbo, Dublin circa 1980), is a man who came to prominence too late: He longs for the days of The Celtic Tiger; of Krystal filled to the brim with the finest Columbian White; of Bertie; of SSIA’s; of buying apartments in Bulgaria for some reason. Lovin’ Dublin is emblematic of the wants and desires of a Different Time™.
But alas, his arrival preceded The Boom, and now he languishes in age of ‘Recovery’, Avocados, and Twitter Beef.
And Beef he has. A cursory glance at Harbo’s social media presence, or indeed his literary output, will afford you an insight into the kind of bloke the founder of Lovin’ is, and the values upon which his company are based.
In 2014, he called working-class children swimming on a sweltering-hot day ‘knackers having their yearly wash’, then spent the rest of the year proceeding to put himself forward as a proponent of mental health awareness.
We need to talk, Lovin’ Dublin told us, about this country’s mental health problem, but also about how irksome working-class children are when you’re just trying to enjoy your prawns in peace.
Prior to Just Talking, Harbo compared a pizzeria in the North Inner City to the Gaza Strip.
“I forgot about the fact” he wrote, upon returning from his brave venture to the North Side, “that my car was clearly having the wheels taken off it outside and felt like I was back sitting in Napoli or Sicily for an hour.”
It is important for Lovin’ Dublin that we create the conditions in which we are able to talk about how we really feel about stuff. Next month it is rumoured that Lovin’ will release an app that lets its readers know exactly where in Ireland Bressie’s bike is at all times. Exercise is terrific for depression, just don’t go swimming anywhere near where Harbo is eating, proles.
Earlier this month, following the suicide bombing attack that killed 22 people, in a gesture of solidarity, Harbo posted on Instagram that he was sure to be wearing his ‘Lovin’ Manchester’ hoodie.
“I was meant to be there tonight,” he Tweeted.
Building a Bougie Empire
Harbo’s Lovin’ Empire (200,000 odd social media follows and one million website hits a month) is built on the notions of the Yuppie Brunch Crowd, whose propensity to salivate over Celtic Tiger opulence he directly acknowledges.
They too long for the days of Eddie Hobbs and also having a second home.
“It’s amazing how well those property pieces do” he said, speaking to the Sunday Business Post Magazine about snapshots of mansions regularly posted on his website.
“…I mean, look, most people reading us don’t have two million feckin’ quid lying around, but everyone likes to have a look around the penthouses in their own city.”
But Harbo would hate for ye to think he a man lacking in a social conscience, for he is a Sufficiently Woke Bae.
When asked about the role of multinational corporations in Ireland, Harbo, eager to demonstrate his legitimate Woke Credentials, said, “I think it’s great having all these big companies here, but they need to be contributing more to society. We need to be building more homes for everybody.”
With Harbo’s Wokeness in mind, it is perplexing that the Lovin’ Group would advertise an internship, which, among its myriad perks (including ‘working with a super-talented team’ and ‘relevant experience in one of Ireland’s fast growing digital media companies’) was a ‘monthly stipend’ – a peculiar euphemism for ‘a living wage’.
Beware of the Foodies
It’s hard to be in the service industry, particularly if you work in the kinds of establishment that cater to the Brunch Bunch. Scones need heating, prosecco needs fetching, yuppies need reassuring that the people who joined the queue after them only got a table sooner because they were a smaller group.
Now, in the age of Food Blogs, staff must also watch out for a Foodie, who will write a lacerating review of their place of work unless they are bended over backwards for. ‘I had a lunch meeting and had to wait,’ Harbo wrote, in a scathing review of a restaurant which contained other people also waiting to be served food.
Perhaps, though, in the age of The Recovery – in which we must all bear witness to a fairly sordid recrudescence of Celtic Tiger notionery, having learned nothing from the crash – Niall Harbison is not the hero we need, but the hero we deserve: Writing demeaning slurs about the working class whilst simultaneously exploiting interns; ensuring the obsequiousness of floor staff via implicit threats of a catty blog post; and drinking, drinking, drinking craft beer to his little heart’s content.
You either wine and dine a Harbo or live long enough to see your establishment get slated.