RALEIGH – Chef and entrepreneur Coleen Speaks has set out to make the world a happier place.
“Happiness should be the underlying principle in everyone’s mind. Happy employees. Happy guests. This creates an awesome energy you can’t fake. It’s a real thing. And finding your happy place, that is my thing,” said Speaks.
Speaks, as owner of PoshNosh Catering, has been helping people find happiness through culinary creations for more than a decade. And, with her recent opening of Hummingbird, a neighborhood bar and café, she’s brining happiness to a whole new level.
“With Hummingbird, I tried to create this really beautiful space that is happy. You can feel it in there. It has its own aura for sure,” said Speaks.
Hummingbird, located on Whitaker Mill Road in Raleigh, is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night, Monday through Saturday, providing guests with signature cocktails such as Big Willy Style and Stamen it all on Love in addition to edible delights such as Lamb Meatballs and Buttermilk Fried Quail.
The mint green tiled walls and yellow-topped bar stools create a soft atmosphere in what was once a 1950s era warehouse that has been delicately transformed into the neighborhood hot spot.
“The Hummingbird name came first. The flower essence to our cocktails came because hummingbirds love flowers and it gives a subtle hint of femininity and the female ownership of the bar,” said Speaks.
“I had many names I was running through, but before we started construction, I went by there by myself one Saturday morning. The bar itself used to be an old 1950s warehouse bathroom. It was still a bathroom with sinks and toilets, and I was sitting in the corner on the floor looking at it and trying to envision how it was going to be on opening day. I thought, “it’s really tiny, efficient and beautiful. What is all of that? A hummingbird.”
Hummingbird, in addition to PoshNosh Catering, has a flair for New Orleans, a homage to where Speaks spent years fine-tuning her craft. She entered the service industry at the age of 15, when she began waiting tables in her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Her career began at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA Restaurant, and locally at Bloomsbury Bistro and Enoteca Vin with Chef Ashley Christensen.
As PoshNosh was born, she began cooking out of her house and catering small parties, growing and building her business through word-of-mouth.
“I found there was a lot of opportunity for people to do really interesting things with food here in Raleigh. I thought I would capitalize on that and never intended to have a big business. I always wanted a small boutique, custom operation which is still what we are,” added Speaks.
The attention to detail is what continues to drive her business. Catering menus are all custom and she plays host to weddings and other celebrations in the attached event space, Whitaker & Atlantic. Renovated to preserve the urban roots of its warehouse past, the 5,500 square foot space has a unique character and comfort, providing a fitting backdrop to Speaks’ culinary whimsy.
“Food brings people together and makes them feel good,” said Speaks. “Each guest should be made to feel special.”