From Lagom #5

Visit: The MacSmiths / The Natural Philosopher

If a Mac repair shop and a cocktail bar sound like an odd combination, be sure to pay a visit to The MacSmiths (in the day) and The Natural Philosopher (at night). These Victorian-themed businesses that share the same space are just about strange enough to work.

Words Elliot Jay Stocks

Photographs Elliot Jay Stocks

If a Mac repair shop and a cocktail bar sound like an odd combination, be sure to pay a visit to The MacSmiths (in the day) and The Natural Philosopher (at night), owned by proprietor and actor Paul Marc Davis. These Victorian-themed businesses that share the same space are just about strange enough to work.

The shop’s beginnings were founded in the wake of the financial crisis, when funding for two feature films Paul was to star in fell through. 

Suddenly without a job, Paul decided to lean on skills he’d picked up from years of being a Mac user, working from home fixing Macs for family and friends. He soon had more customers than he could cope with clamouring for him to fix their Macs, and he quickly realised he needed to employ people in order to keep the business going, and for it to grow. For this, he needed a base away from home, and The MacSmiths was born. 

Decorated with Victorian antiques, old paintings, taxidermic animals, worn leather chairs, and tills from a bygone era, The MacSmiths is about as far removed from the clean, crisp, white decor of the Apple Mac stores of the high streets as you can get. 

“When customers came to my home, they always said  they were expecting it to look like an IT company,” Paul says, proudly, “and I didn’t want to lose that edge, so when I was setting up this place, I thought: why don’t I just make the kind of place that I want to walk into? It’s not meant to be a gimmick; I just did it the way I wanted it. When you’re honest with yourself and you’re honest with the way you want to do something, people respond to that honesty, whether it’s to their taste or not.”

“When you’re honest with the way you want to do something, people respond to that honesty, whether it’s to their taste or not.” 

The store’s evolution and transformation of half of the space to become the cocktail bar The Natural Philosopher came about by chance, when Paul was asked by a bar owner if they could put up a pop-up bar in the back of The MacSmiths. 

“I loved the idea,” said Paul, “and then a pop-up bar quickly became ‘can we just make a bar?’, so we decided to run it as an ongoing partnership.” 

As with The MacSmiths, The Natural Philosopher also revels in its unique identity, with its sunken bar in the basement level, giving customers an interesting angle of looking down on the bar staff. 


Lagom #5 cover

Read the unabridged version of this story in the print edition of Lagom #5, along with features on Riga’s role as a new destination for foodies, Prague’s blossoming specialty coffee scene, and much more.

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