Milk, cookies and teddy bears at Mr. Jones' Orphanage
'Did you ever date a teddy bear?' What an unusual question. But it doesn't sound odd at Mr. Jones' Orphanage, bear factory and baked food shops in Bangkok. I am in one of the blue velvet train-compartments of the Siam Center Shopping Mall branch. Whilst enjoying tea and blueberry cheesecake general manager Mr. Roberto Giordano, also known as 'Mr. Jones' (Tsss It's a secret!), is so kind as to explain to me the magical story of this cake and milk shop, a concept many would like to copy.
Mr Jones' Orphanage has been created by Ashley Sutton, genius designer, well known for Bangkok's most intriguing bar, 'The Iron Fairies'. Sutton, originally from Perth, Australia, grew up in an environment of fishermen and mine workers. After leaving school at a young age and working his way up to become a blacksmith and glazier, he now owns and runs several places to be in Bangkok. Sutton must be gifted with a vivid fantasy (though his mother never told him fairy tales). 'The Iron Fairies' is based on the idea of ore workers stumbling on lovely fairies (Sutton penned three books about these magical creatures), 'Mr. Jones' Orphanage', however, is a stunning mix of bears, milk, cookies and cakes for strong and sweet childhood memories.
Mr. Jones' Orphanage at Siam Center Department Store (3rd Floor), on the left: general manager Roberto Giordano alias Mr. Jones
The design of the two Mr. Jones' dessert shops (a third shop will be opened soon!) is playful and charming. The Siam Center branch where I am having tea with cheesecake (believe me, the cake is delicious!) has been built as a railway station with rails stretching through the shop, with crossing signs and cozy train-compartments offering the guests a welcome and intimate atmosphere. In the luggage racks fluffy bears are stuffed as long as they don't make a wild ride on the toy trains above the guests' heads. A huge clock is attached to the ceiling above the cakes and cookies table. The use of blonde wood adds to the warm atmosphere. Copper poles of the railway signs once again show Sutton's passion for metals and blacksmith art. The design refers to the nearby sky train station (which makes this Mr. Jones' Orphanage branch so very easy to reach. Just get off at the BTS station 'Siam', enter the Siam Center Mall and you will find Mr. Jones' dessert shop at the third floor).
Mr. Jones' Orphanage at Seenspace Thonglor 13 (1st Floor)
The other Mr. Jones' Orphanage branch - actually the one where it all started - is located in the trendy Thong Lor area (just get off at BTS station 'Thong Lor' and take a taxi to Seenspace Thonglor 13) and evokes the atmosphere of an abandoned house in gothic style. Gargoyles are attached to the outside walls. Next to the entrance (1st Floor, you can't miss it) is a wooden miniature house for dropping 'orphan' teddy bears. Inside you will find the same combination of blonde wood and blue velvet as in Siam Center. The table with huge 'Alice in Wonderland'-chairs with high backrests placed under a carousel of dangling wooden horses is everyone's favorite. Teddy bears are all over the place. Some of them, the lucky ones, have their own 'room' with passport attached, just below the wooden ceiling. The long table is perfect for birthday parties and workshops are held every month. A small flight of stairs leads to the first floor with ceilings so low that you have to crawl. This area with soft sofa's and - again - teddy bears is clearly reserved for the little guests. A chain in a far corner delimits Mr. Jones' office with a ceiling as low as the children's lounge :-)
Oreo Pizza, Choky Mud Pie and Cookie Monsters at Mr. Jones' Orphanage
In both the Mr. Jones shops the focus is - of course - on the huge table piled with cakes and cookies, a real sweet tooth's dream. I see Lemon meringue (a bestseller), scones with cream and jam, New York Cupcakes, Mr. Jones' Marshmallows, dark chocolate brownies, macaroons, cranberry cookies, blueberry sponge cake, chocolate cakes, Oreo Pizza and 'Kit Kat Monster' cake with M&M's (kids love this one!). Another bestseller is the Choky Mud Pie which looks a bit like a volcano and is served with ice cream, a toy soldier or racing car and a flower. Everything is homemade and freshly baked in the open kitchen that reminds me of Santa's Workshop. For the ultimate childhood experience Mr. Jones' flavored milk, served in a little bottle with a straw, is favorite. Whatever you order, it undoubtedly will look great.. and taste delicious!
Before leaving Mr. Jones' wonderful world I still have a burning question for general manager Mr. Roberto Giordano. 'Who really is Mr. Jones?' I want to know (and I think I am not the only one). 'Back in the 70s the (imaginary) Mr. Jones was a hippy. Since then the world has changed and has become more individualistic whereas Mr. Jones has kept his great sense of social responsibility. He wants to humanize business. The design of Mr. Jones' Orphanage has an educational purpose. The idea is to get closer to the real need of children. Mr. Jones' Orphanage is more than saving abandoned teddy bears. Right now Mr. Jones, together with a goodwill foundation, is developing a social project which will give young people, through internships at Mr. Jones' Orphanage, a chance to learn about and develop their social and communicating skills.'
I had a great time at Mr. Jones'. Thank you so much, Roberto. I have really fallen in love with Mr. Jones' Orphanage. And to answer your question: 'No, I never dated a teddy bear but now I am seriously considering it.'
In collaboration with Trendystyle.com.hk
Mr. Jones Orphanage
Seenspace Thonglor 13 (1st Floor)
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 am 12 pm
Mr. Jones Orphanage
Siam Center Department Store (3rd Floor)
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 am 10 pm