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The new Samsung ME-C, MD-C,PE-C, UE-C and UD-C series LED*BLU offer great new features for digital signage applications, video wall set ups and information sharing. The Samsung Smart Signage Platform (SSSP) is designed to eliminate the need for external PC media players, helping to streamline display and content management. Combine with MagicInfo™ Premium S software, to create, schedule and deliver content to either a single display or multiple displays over a network. **^ New Features common to the ME-C, MD-C,PE-C, UE-C and UD-C series include: • DP1.2 Daisy Chain for sharing content to compatible displays.# • Content/ Image Rotation • HDCP support thru DP1.2 for up to 7 compatible displays# • MagicInfo™ Premium S**^ software • DDP1.2 UHD Loop Out for 2 x 2 video wall configuration^^ • Magicinfo™ Videowall S**^ software • Auto Source Switching and Recovery • Onboard Memory for Content

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Images used for illustration purposes only * Samsung LED BLU Commercial Displays use LCD display panels with LED back or edge lighting. ** MagicInfo™ Premium S software is included with displays for stand-alone applications only. For network applications, server licenses are required at additional cost. MagicInfo VideoWall requires one licence at additional cost per display in video wall plus console software at additional cost. ^ Internet connection required. Data and subscription charges may apply. Usage may be subject to third party service provider agreements ^^DP1.2 cables sold separately. Content delivery device must be able to deliver UHD content via DP1.2. # DP cable required, sold separately.

The new range of Samsung Commercial Displays

The new Samsung ME-C, PE-C, UE-C and UD-C series LED*BLU displays have all received important upgrades from the previous models, offering great new features for digital signage applications, video wall set ups and information sharing.

The new Samsung Smart Signage Platform (SSSP) with MagicInfo™ Premium S**^ Enabling web based multi-display signage networks without the need for external media players! Included with the latest ME-C, PE-C, UE-C and UD-C series displays, SSSP is designed to eliminate the need for external PC media players, streamlining display and content management. Combine with MagicInfo™ Premium S software, to create, schedule and deliver content to either a single display or multiple displays over a network**^

DP1.2 Ultra High Definition Loop Out for 2 x 2 Video Wall Configurations^^ The new Samsung ME-C, UE-C, PE-C and UD-C series displays utilises DP1.2 technology to help enable delivery of UHD content across 4 separate displays (each display sold separately) when set up in a 2 x 2 landscape video wall configuration. Simply loop out of the first display with a DP1.2 cable, daisy chain the displays and they are ready to accept Ultra High Definition (3820 x 2160) content.

Easy Image Rotation – use the display settings to rotate your content The image rotation feature enables simple rotation of screen content using display menu functions. This feature is designed to allow content to be reoriented without losing its aspect ratio, and can also be delivered to multiple screens via DP1.2 loop out (daisy chain)#, eg. to expand landscape content across 3 displays in portrait mode (as shown).

HDCP Support using DP1.2 loop out# The new ME-C, PE-C, UE-C and UD-C Series, now offering the DP1.2 loop out, also offer HDCP support through DP1.2 loop out for up to 7 daisy chained compatible displays. This helps to overcome HDCP compliance issues for multi screen deployments or video wall applications where you need to deliver protected content from one device to multiple displays.

Share Content to multiple displays with DP1.2 Loop Out daisy chain*

The new SSSP, streamlining content and display management

*HDCP up to 7 displays.

Easy content rotation

Create, collaborate, communicate

Images used for illustration purposes only * Samsung LED BLU Commercial Displays use LCD display panels with LED back or edge lighting. ** MagicInfo™ Premium S software is included with displays for stand-alone applications only. For network applications, server licenses are required at additional cost. MagicInfo VideoWall requires one licence at additional cost per display in video wall plus console software at additional cost. ^ Internet connection required. Data and subscription charges may apply. Usage may be subject to third party service provider agreements ^^DP1.2 cables sold separately. Content delivery device must be able to deliver UHD content via DP1.2. # DP cable required, sold separately.

FROM THE EDITOR Thanks, but I’ve heard it all before Christopher Holder can be reached at:



elcome to our Restaurant & Café Special where we talk to some very accomplished operators, and showcase some lovely looking venues. But the message I’m hearing around the traps? Anything under $12. That seems to be about the threshold. And it’s not very high. Everything else is hard to sell. That’s great news for cafés and purveyors of burgers. Not so fabulous for fine dining. Of course, the $12 threshold for a menu item doesn’t reign unopposed. There are examples of ways in which restaurateurs are helping diners feel happy about parting with more. I’d like to introduce you to Stephen Lee, owner of the long-established Little Snail restaurant in Pyrmont. I found his story to be quite inspirational. Admittedly, it’s an unintentional plug for Groupon and, I know, immediately I’m at risk of losing many of you: “Tried it, and it didn’t work”, “It brings in the wrong type of crowd”, “It really bit us on the bum”… I’ve heard it before and accept that it’s not the right thing for many restaurants. But after speaking with Stephen, I reckon discount coupons may not be the pariah many believe them to be. At least hear out Stephen, who’s made it work, thanks to some savvy business acumen. Stephen Lee, Little Snail: I started this journey with a couple of things in mind: Little Snail is a restaurant, but when you boil it down, we’re a ‘food retailer’. So, why don’t restaurants have ‘sales’ like other retailers? That was one thought. Another thought was: how can I use technology and the internet to best advantage without being distracted from our core business of good food service. And, finally, like most other restaurants, I was keen to smooth my cash flow: how do I improve on my slow periods of the year? The traditional means of attracting business is to advertise. But advertising is expensive and it’s difficult to track the revenue stream that comes as a direct result of the advertising. The previous owners dabbled in programs like Bartercard and the Entertainment Card — discount concepts to boost traffic. They don’t work because I can’t pay my suppliers with Bartercard money. I investigated Groupon and was attracted by the idea

that it gave me a web presence and that for every coupon sold I was guaranteed revenue. Naturally, I had my concerns: Initially, my concern was whether Groupon would dilute our regular customer base — our full-paying customers. That was a major concern. (Surprisingly, Groupon has actually allowed us to expand our customer base.) But I decided it was worth dipping my toe in the coupon water. Initially, I was amazed at how many Groupon buyers there are. We sold to 6000 people in the first campaign over a seven-day period (from then on we capped each campaign at 6000 customers over a seven-day sale period). The system is simple: after the campaign we receive our payment from Groupon promptly. Groupon is professional, diligent, and we never encounter ay problems. And right now our sales through Groupon are around the $800,000 per annum — that represents quite an important revenue stream for us. We offer a three-course dinner at a 50% discount. Our menu price here for a three-course dinner is around $60, but we also have to provide a beverage as part of the deal. So it’s a juggle to make the deal work for us financially. Let’s be honest, any retailer that discounts 50% of their gross price is going to find it difficult to make money. So we have to look internally to manage our costs, which requires me to speak to my crew about productivity. I have a very good crew who have responded amazingly. In turn, we’re committed to training our staff. The upshot is a restaurant with great service and a crew that’s dedicated to upselling. As I mentioned, our menu prices are $60 per person for a three-course meal. Our food cost per person is around $18, our rent content is around $10-12 — that’s without Groupon. With Groupon our fixed unit cost — rent, insurance, electricity use, garbage collection — are spread further, or else we wouldn’t be able to accommodate Groupon’s system. I’ve also had to talk to my suppliers. I’ve got to mitigate the impact of that 50% discount. My rationale: if I can guarantee my suppliers an extra 400 people a week, 6000 per quarter, then that’s a basis upon which to renegotiate my prices. My suppliers have helped me quite considerably in that way.

From a revenue perspective, each coupon sells at $69 for a dinner for two. After commission we get close to $30 per person, so that allows us to cover the cost. Importantly, Groupon has exposed us to a broader dining public — a sector that ordinarily couldn’t afford the full price and wouldn’t normally set foot in Little Snail — I see that as a real plus. The impact of Groupon is predictable and measurable. Whenever we embark on a new campaign we’ll receive phone calls the very next morning. Then we’ll find we have an influx of people in the following two weeks. The impact is immediate — at least in my experience: the minute that coupon is on sale, that very day, the bookings come in. If I initially considered a Groupon campaign as a way of dealing with a quiet period, I don’t now. Now, it’s a revenue stream for us. It’s not a casual ad hoc scheme. Groupon isn’t a free service, of course, but I’m philosophical: you’ve got to pay for services and it works for both of us. I now regard Groupon as a supplier, as a partner, along the same lines as my grocer, my seafood people, and my bank. Groupon is now part of my whole business model. An interesting and challenging perspective or Groupon propaganda? Well, I was dubious about Groupon until I spoke at length to Stephen and felt it deserved to be relayed. You make up your own mind, and while you’re at it, let me know your experiences. Christopher Holder, Editorial Director

if I can guarantee my suppliers an extra 400 people a week, 6000 per quarter, then that’s a basis upon which to renegotiate my prices



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Contents “opening a huge Cantoneseinspired restaurant in a nightclub space was something else entirely. The sheer scale of it, I was so nervous. I kept saying to Justin ‘are you sure?’” Frank Roberts, Merivale’s F&B Director — pg18

Greek Classic Alpha: The Hellenic Club’s Olympian Effort



Restaurant Special

Mr Wong Masterchef Dining & Bar Alpha Zest Waterfront Venues The Avenue Jimmy Grants Noble The Star Food & Beverage The Lunch Room The Oaks Bar & Grill Manly Phoenix Lighting Rosetta Bistro One Eleven Fonda Captain Baxter Town Hall Hotel Anatoli Gochi Grain Store The Springs Meat & Wine Co. David’s The Town Mouse Man Tong

pg18 pg24 pg26 pg30 pg32 pg34 pg36 pg38 pg40 pg42 pg48 pg52 pg54 pg54 pg54 pg55 pg55 pg56 pg56 pg56 pg58 pg58 pg58 pg71


Sit: Seating Special Kit Lit Preferred Suppliers Smooth Operator Music Connection You Wish: Astor Grill, Doha

pg60 pg74 pg76 pg78 pg13 pg14 pg82

Café Special

Brunetti Code Black GB Espresso Urban Coffee Farm GB Espresso

pg66 pg70 pg72 pg73 pg72

CONTACTS: Advertising Office: (02) 9986 1188 PO Box 6216, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086 Editorial Office: (03) 5331 4949 PO Box 295, Ballarat, VIC 3353 Editorial Director: Christopher Holder ( Publication Director: Stewart Woodhill ( Publisher: Philip Spencer ( Art Direction & Design: Dominic Carey ( Additional Design: Jason Grace Circulation Manager: Jen Temm ( Accounts: Jaedd Asthana (

alchemedia publishing pty ltd (ABN: 34 074 431 628) PO Box 6216, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086 All material in this magazine is copyright © 2013 Alchemedia Publishing Pty Ltd. The title Venue is a registered Trademark. Apart from any fair dealing permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. The publishers believe all information supplied in this magazine to be correct at the time of publication. They are not in a position to make a guarantee to this effect and accept no liability in the event of any information proving inaccurate. After investigation and to the best of our knowledge and belief, prices, addresses and phone numbers were up to date at the time of publication. It is not possible for the publishers to ensure that advertisements appearing in this publication comply with the Trade Practices Act, 1974. The responsibility is on the person, company or advertising agency submitting or directing the advertisement for publication. The publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions, although every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy.

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SMOOTH OPERATOR Penalty rate shitstorm. Matt Mullins is a partner in Sand Hill Road hospitality group


haven’t met George Calombaris. Love his restaurants, though. And I have to admit, I’m a total sucker for Masterchef. I love that he can get away with saying “Boom boom shake the room”. Seriously? Who says that?! George, that’s who. I love the way his head starts to sweat when he eats chilli. I love his unbridled passion, and his very genuine care and concern for contestants when they melt-down while attempting to temper chocolate (delicious irony isn’t it? Melting-down while… anyway, you get it). In short, I’m a fan. And like everyone in our industry, I was enthralled by his recent foray into the dark, murky waters of penalty rates and labour laws, and the shitstorm that followed. As a refresher, earlier this year George gave an interview to The Power Index, saying that penalty rates on Sundays and Public Holidays were too high, making it unprofitable to open on those days. He said rates were as high as $40 an hour on Sundays. He said he could eat cheaper at Fat Duck (Heston’s high altar of fine dining in the UK) than he could here in Australia, and that labour costs were the difference. So far so good. Most operators would agree that penalty rates are very high. Barely a Good Friday goes by without my partners and I looking at our public holiday wage bill and screaming to the heavens. George then went on to say “And it’s not like they’ve had to go to uni for 15 years”. This was more controversial. Even fellow operators pursed their lips and squinted their eyes as if to say “oh no, did he just say that?!” And then the shitstorm started. Twitter lit up with abuse, support, counter-abuse and countersupport. It was ‘hashtag this’ and ‘hashtag that’. Facebook went bonkers too. Everyone had an opinion, and — as is so often the case on Facebook — the less you knew about it all, the more qualified you were to proffer an opinion. Follow-up articles were published in major metropolitan papers, some merely reporting about the shitstorm itself, others adding layers of reportage. Each of these articles garnered hundreds of comments at the bottom of their online versions, the general themes of which ranged from ‘George is the devil’, to ‘George is god’ (or god-like, at least.) Then Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten chimed in, saying that as much as he loved George and his restaurants (and you immediately suspected Bill had done more than his fair share of Party business over a dish of lollipop-smoked salmon at the Press Club) he just didn’t agree that paying our country’s lowest paid workers even less was any way to build a sustainable industry.

FACING OFF The competing arguments go something like this: On the one hand, the greedy bastard bosses, their cheer squads at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and the Australian Hotels Association, have never been better off. Australians are spending more money dining out than ever before. The big boys want bigger profits, so they’re squeezing the life out of whatever input costs they can wrap their arms around, and lowly-paid waiters and cooks are an easy target. Uneducated, unorganised, un-unionised; they can’t or won’t fight back. The bosses think penalty rates are too high in the same way rent is too high — it’s a cost, they don’t like it. The only difference being there’s no way they’ll start a fight with landlords, who are also rich greedy bastard bosses, and therefore know exactly how to tell their tenants to f**k off, and wouldn’t hesitate to do just that. They claim penalty rates make it too expensive to open on Sundays, yet they pretty much all still open on Sundays. They claim the industry is suffering a massive profit squeeze thanks to penalty rates, yet the ABS figures for the industry show profit steady or slightly up at 12% of sales, since the introduction of the Award in early 2010. They claim jobs will be lost as a result of penalty rates, yet employment growth in the industry has held at 4% since the introduction of the Award, consistent with all other industries over the same time. Meanwhile, in the ‘red corner’, the commiepinko, union lefties are destroying the Australian way of life, forcing the Sunday closure of every restaurant, cafe, bar and pub who would otherwise have been able to offer that famous Australian tradition: brunch. The only entitlement a worker has is to a job, and if a boss closes his restaurant on a Sunday because of penalty rates, workers don’t get to work. Australia is no longer a country that works 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. We’re open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Weekends are no longer sacred. It’s not like waiters and cooks are being forced to leave their crying children at home on public holidays, or to desert their distraught wife to cater for the Sunday roast on her own. Families go out on Sundays now – or at least they would, if venues could afford to stay open. Employment in the hospitality industry is a well-trodden pathway into the workforce for many young people and university students. They don’t care whether it’s Monday or Sunday, it’s all the same to them, they just want to work.

Sure, we could make more money if we got rid of penalty rates. No doubt. Also if we got rid of super. And OH&S regulations. And taxes. PENALTY AREA So what are the alternatives? Well, business lobbies want penalty rates scrapped, limited or reformed. The unions want penalty rates to stay just the way they are. The workers themselves? No idea. As far as I can tell, no one’s asked them, or if they did, they didn’t get an answer. But my guess? Some workers don’t know anything about this debate, and don’t care. Sunday’s just the day after Saturday night’s 21st party. It’s the day before they go back to university to endure two of their 12 contact hours per week. They know they get a penalty rate, but they’d work regardless. Others though know all about it, because they’re not university students, they’re middle-aged mums and dads who — if they weren’t washing dishes or taking orders — would love to be at home running around with their kids on one of only two days their kids aren’t at school. Hell, they might even like to take their family out for lunch at the local. But they can’t — they’re serving other families instead. I don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong. Sure, we could make more money if we got rid of penalty rates. No doubt. Also if we got rid of super. And OH&S regulations. And taxes. But over the years, you know what we’ve found is the best way to make more money? To be better at what we do.


MUSIC CONNECTION Designing for your patrons’ ears. Stuart Watters is a Director of Morph TV and consults for Nightlife Music


any venues delicately balance the design elements that can easily make or break a great experience but all too often, acoustics or how a venue will sound isn’t considered until it’s too late. Music plays a big part in this experience — but to be able to make an impact with music, you firstly have to be able to hear it.  With a resurgence in modern dining through a plethora of recent TV shows, and the new ‘consumer expert’, the pressure is on venues to outdo each other and remain relevant. Spaces are being created to push the sensory boundaries in all directions, yet they still need to remain intimate enough to leave guests wanting to come back and invite everyone they know to share it.


MORE THAN GOOD FOOD For many, dining is an intensely social and cultural experience — it’s not just about the food. It is commonly the complete social experience that leaves a lasting impression. Getting this impression right the first time can often mean the difference between long lasting relationships, and the dreaded gastronomic ‘one night stand’. It makes sense to have customers not only feel at home, but to then invite others into this space in the same manner. While there is no golden rule, what is obvious is that a culinary experience is an intensely social one, and the social aesthetics must be created with interaction as an integral element. While food is obviously central, it is just as much the conversation, the ambience, and the service that must all work in synergy to really get chins wagging. Unfortunately, the acoustics in venues are far too often overlooked, leaving a disastrous clash of sounds to fight through, when a small investment here can pay off big in the long run. Think for a moment about what goes into designing a restaurant, and the intense work involved in creating a new dining ‘brand’. Architects design and shopfitters build beautiful and practical spaces with attention to elements such as: lighting, maximising space, ambience, vibe and inviting colours. The chef complements the theme with a menu that follows the design brief, front of house staff work to ensure a smooth operation and the kitchen is likely to organise the cutlery, tableware and other bits and pieces. A music supplier is then given a very specific brief to create a custom selection of music that simply says <yes>. An amazing new sound system is installed, likely costing its weight in

gold and from there, it is easy to assume the place will sound good. With this in place, and with the first few customers trickling in, this is likely the moment managers start to notice how these more modern spaces can echo like a shopping centre food court. Achieving the right balance between the music level and ambient noise to make the space comfortable is almost never a thing of serendipity. As more guests flow in, an acoustically bad room will just get worse. As the tables fill up, guests raise their voices so they can be heard over the ambient room noise and each other; which means that the wait staff struggle with hearing orders and customers become frustrated. If the room is acoustically compromised from the start, it is almost impossible to balance the music to maintain the atmosphere during the ‘silent moments’ between conversations and the whole service will spiral out of control.

SOUND ADVICE If you’re reading this and wondering if you have an acoustics problem, there are some very simple things that can be done. You can start by organising certain tests in order to measure the audibility of speech and sounds in your venue.  How well guests can communicate in your venue is referred to as ‘intelligibility’. This easy test will reveal where there is room for improvement in the acoustics of your venue. In the end, you may need to retrofit the whole venue with acoustic panels, but luckily it is quite a simple process, and the difference it makes is as obvious as night and day. On that, there is a great TED X talk by Julian Treasure (simply Google ‘Julian Treasure TED’ and you’ll find it) that deals with just this issue — well worth taking nine minutes to watch before you engage an architect to do any work on your venue! REAL IMPACT There are also countless studies about the positive impact that music can and does have on the dining and restaurant industries and there have also been a slew of recent studies that have highlighted how excessive background noise has an adverse impact on your taste buds (just type in ‘din and dinner’ into The Age’s web search engine). Once a venue’s acoustics have been treated, the story often changes dramatically. When the first customers come in, the room is now comfortable and intimate as the ambient sound is easily dispersed — a good start. As the room fills, the ambient noise is absorbed by the acoustic panels,

and there is no need to compete to be heard. This then lets the music fill the room and create the atmosphere it was intended to, and guests stay longer to soak up that atmosphere. The wait staff are not forced to cut through the ambient noise, and there are no raised voices when ordering. With the right selection of music in place this will encourage customers to stay longer, spend more, and leave happier. With the right acoustics in place, the music can do what it is designed to do, uninhibited by extraneous acoustic competition. That’s not to say a venue can’t be noisy — some venues by their very character should have a good quotient of ‘din’ but not at the expense of the customers’ dining experience or the music. It’s not our core business, but Nightlife has worked with countless venues around the country on providing independent assessments and solutions in this area. We have helped a lot of people because we know that it can make a huge difference. So the message to you, the restaurant operator is: you’re not powerless; solutions are readily available and they don’t need to be expensive. Target an area where there is an opportunity for improvement — start somewhere. We can help you to work with your architects and designers and put you in touch with businesses that specialise in acoustics. Good luck.

Achieving the right balance between the music level and ambient noise to make the space comfortable is almost never a thing of serendipity

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MR WONG, SO RIGHT Merivaleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Food & Beverage Director reveals how his Cantonese behemoth went from an idea to runaway success. Story: James Dampney Mr Wong: 3 Bridge St NSW (02) 9240 3000 or



ou get the feeling that Justin Hemmes isn’t short of self-confidence, but when the Merivale boss gambled big on the immense Ivy complex — and won — it gave his company enormous confidence and self-belief. Ivy was a concept fraught with risks and one that took years in the planning, combining a multitude of bars and restaurants, a nightclub, a bottle shop and even a swimming pool, all sprawled across two buildings. That fact the company proved the naysayers wrong and developed the site into one of the central beacons of the city’s hospitality core, emboldened Merivale to take on some other ambitious projects.

FOCUS ON FOOD One of those motivated to expand the company’s horizons even further was Frank Roberts, Merivale's Food and Beverage Director. Following a three-year association with renowned chef Peter Doyle, Roberts joined Merivale back in 2003. One of his initial tasks was successfully revitalising the Lotus restaurant (relaunched as The Fish Shop in 2012) in Potts Point and he gradually worked his way up to becoming Merivale’s Group Restaurants Manager. He was then a key figure in Merivale chief executive Hemmes’ vision for Ivy: “It was a very, very busy couple of years getting Ivy open,” Roberts recalls. “We opened it in stages and it was extremely challenging, but it was exciting because not only had none of us done anything like that before, Sydney hadn’t seen anything like it either. It was a bit of a blank canvas in what we could do, what worked, what didn’t. You’re talking about a venue that, when it’s packed, has 5000 people in it. “On a personal level, it was an amazing learning opportunity. I think opening Ivy gave us all confidence and you start to think you can do anything.” ASIA MAJOR One of the company’s next projects was the establishment of the Asian-themed Ms.G’s in Potts Point, a four-storey sensory overload combining quality food with an upstairs bar and an elaborate fitout. But that was just a precursor for what was to come. Hemmes, Roberts and the Merivale brains trust were formulating a plan to venture into a new, untapped area for the company. “I remember having a chat with (head chef) Dan Hong, four or five months after Ms.G’s opened, saying to him ‘mate, I think we’re going to do a Chinese restaurant in Tank. Do you want to run it?’” Roberts said. “And he said ‘No way! I can’t do Chinese. I’ve never cooked Chinese — you’re kidding me?’ “I said ‘Relax, I’ve never run a Chinese restaurant either’.” And so began the first steps towards the creation of Mr Wong. The plan was to build a high-quality Chinese restaurant, with a focus on dim sum, in the space at Establishment previously filled by the Tank nightclub. What made this particular project such a gamble was the people involved were preparing to experiment in an area where they had zero personal experience. “It has probably been the project where we put the most amount of thought and preparation — and I’m glad we did because it still wasn’t enough,” Roberts said. “When you open a business like Ivy and it’s got so many different departments, your attention obviously is spread everywhere. [Ivy’s French restaurant] Felix is a pretty special place, but it’s something we all

understood and knew the concept well — it was a lot more straightforward. But opening a huge Cantoneseinspired restaurant in a nightclub space was something else entirely. The sheer scale of it, I was so nervous. I kept saying to Justin ‘are you sure?’ ‘Am I in the right ballpark here?’ ‘Is this what we’re going to do?’ And we still underestimated the scale. We were calculating to do about 20 percent less than we’re actually doing. It was nice to beat a few of our own targets right off the bat.”

THEORIES ABOUND The restaurant game is a notoriously tricky business. Not surprisingly, there are a plethora of theories on what constitutes great restaurant operations. The restaurant landscape is littered with failures, venues that were too ambitious, didn’t get the right mix, didn’t identify the right location, misfired with its menu – the list goes on and on. But Roberts loves that side of the business, he relishes trying to marry up the correct elements that lead to a successful restaurant. He knows there are plenty of opposing views, but he and the rest of the team at Merivale have a clear vision on what they believe makes a restaurant work. “It’s an interesting formula and everyone does it slightly differently, which is what makes it so interesting and fun,” Roberts said. “What works for us is obviously great food at a price that’s fair. I think that’s important. We also have a really strong focus on design and that creative aspect. The final piece of the puzzle is what the place is like to hang out in; what the environment is all about — the ambience, the guest experience. It’s the experience that makes people come back. “If you just have great food, it’s not enough. If you have a great room, it’s not enough. You have to be able to tie all those elements together. It’s a bit like the theatre. The restaurant is the stage and the more props and background you’ve got, that’s fantastic, but ultimately you have to put on an amazing show.” DIM SUM OF THE PARTS So how do you go about creating a menu and identifying the types of food to serve when you have never dealt with that particular style of food before? The first step is to bring in the right people. Following five years at the Michelin-starred Hakkasan restaurant in London, Eric Koh agreed to come on board as the head dim sum chef. And it didn’t take long for Koh to prove his worth and show Merivale that some of the initial planning for Mr Wong wouldn’t work. Dim sum preparation requires a specific environment, so the design was changed to accommodate another kitchen. “Our focus was on the dim sum, which none of us had any experience with at all,” Roberts said. “It’s actually quite a niche setup and skill. We were lucky enough to find Eric Koh, who moved to Australia to open the restaurant with us. He made it clear from day one that you couldn’t prepare dim sum in the main kitchen — it was too hot for the pastry preparation etc. So we turned what was going to be a bar into a dim sum kitchen.” In fact, the team agonised over the design process for months. Mixing large group tables with private dining rooms; tables for two and seating at the main kitchen; mixing classic and contemporary Chinese influences: the bamboo, lanterns, Chinese fans and an array of artworks imbue the 240-seat venue with a warm, authentic feeling. “The design process took a long time. It was painstaking



“The final piece of the puzzle is what the place is like to hang out in… It’s the experience that makes people come back”

AUDIO: JUSTIN HEMMES’ SECRET WEAPON Technical Audio Group’s Technical Director, Anthony Russo, has been Merivale’s audio guru of choice. He’s been involved with many Merivale venues over a number of years, such as Ivy, Establishment and many others. Here he speaks with venue about the peculiarities of restaurant audio design.

venue: What was the Mr Wong brief? Anthony Russo: Justin Hemmes wanted an audio design that was low-profile, comfortable, with even coverage for every seat in the restaurant. Which all sounds very reasonable and achievable, but you need an inordinate number of speakers to really pull that off.

venue: I’m guessing Justin knows what he wants? AR: He has golden ears! Justin has owned so many venues and he really appreciates his music, so he knows what he wants the restaurant to feel like. Striking the right balance of volume in a vibey restaurant is tough. It was all about trying to get the system to sit just right.

venue: What advice do you have to for restaurant managers and owners wanting a superior audio quality? AR: In difficult hard-surfaced venues have an expert look at the room acoustics. They’ll specify the best materials to control the natural acoustics of the space in conjunction with the sound system designer’s goal. No matter how good the speakers and control equipment, we can’t perform miracles in a venue that has the acoustics of a bathroom. You need to ensure that patrons can converse comfortably without the cacophony of a highly reverberant room before you introduce music into the equation. Generally, you can’t skimp on the distribution of speakers throughout the venue. Here’s the analogy: in some really difficult, crazy-reverberent spaces, the best solution is to give everyone headphones. Headphones would mean everyone would hear properly. But obviously that’s not practical. So the next best thing is to ensure each person is only a few steps away from a loudspeaker. It’s a lot easier to control sound with, say, 50 speakers through a venue than four. With 50 we don’t have to push 90dB across the room and annoy a hundred patrons along the way. With more speakers comes better control; you’ll be able to zone table sections properly. Mr Wong has three principal sections, but those sections are themselves broken up (16 zones in all) so we can really fine-tune the sound and keep the volume at a comfortable level. Remember: if a patron is paying good money to enjoy their food, they don’t want to be annoyed by the background music.

venue: And what’s the biggest complaint you hear from operators? AR: ‘Hey, the levels are all over the place: some music comes on really loud, some is too soft, and our managers keep having to adjust volumes.’ The problem is invariably the content. More often than not, they’ll be using iTunes. If you’re determined to use iTunes, which I think is a mistake, then you’ve got to flatten the pre-preprogrammed EQ — Apple will give you ‘Jazz’ or ‘Pop’ EQ settings which all need to be levelled out. And if you’re going to use iTunes, at least sit with your playlist and make sure there aren’t jarring segues

between songs. Content is a really important issue: get the balance right, so you don’t have to keep running and adjusting the level all the time. It’s certainly not as easy as hitting ‘Shuffle’ on iTunes.

venue: Is it worth outsourcing your playlists? AR: I think so. Some venues are now employing a DJ to program playlists for individual days and day-parts — they’ll come up with a really well-mastered playlist. It’s no longer a case of putting a CD on and walking away. If, as an audio designer, I have to start using automatic gain controls and compression to control the volume… well, then, it just ends up sounding like elevator music. There’s only so much black magic we can do.

venue: Like you said, it’s a fine balance between vibey and annoying. AR: Exactly, which is why Justin has had his playlist mastered for him. The dynamics [difference between the softest and loudest sections of the song] are all within a good range.

venue: What about Apple’s Soundcheck program? AR: The problem with Soundcheck is that it only averages some peaks in the song then goes, ‘This is about the right level for everybody,’ but it doesn’t do a very good job. There are other programs that sample the whole track and asks you how much dynamic range you want and makes the dynamic adjustments accordingly. There’s a Windows-based program called ReplayGain, which works by first performing a psychoacoustic analysis of an entire audio track, and adjusts to a pre-determined volume window which works really well.

venue: Given Merivale takes its playlists and audio so seriously, after you’ve done all the hard work, is it largely setand-forget throughout the evening? AR: No. The bar manager will still roam around with an iPad with our QSC QSys interface that makes it really easy for them to adjust levels. Ultimately, a good level is a matter of taste and crowd... it’s very difficult to automate. But because we’ve got a lot of speakers it’s easy to achieve an even balance throughout the venue. Justin will also play a role — he’s really hands-on. He also has a number of bar managers who are well trained. No bar staff or casual staff are given access to the level controls.

venue: What advice do you have with multipurpose restaurants that also functions as a bar or nightclub? AR: Two of the greatest lies in life are: ‘I will never leave you’ and ‘we will never have a DJ in this venue’! I’ve never believed any bar manager who has said ‘we will never have a DJ in here’. So when they pick on my design and say it’s too over the top, I say, ‘believe me, you will have a DJ in here at some point’.

venue: So it’s worth having that built-in ‘headroom’, even if you don’t have immediate plans to have a DJ? AR: That’s right. And employ serious engineers to design your audio, it will inherently give you an extra level of ‘bulletproofness’; you’ll have the ability to raise the bar when the need arises — and the need, more often than not, does arise. Technical Audio Group: (02) 9519 0900 or


to realise Justin’s vision and ensure it perfectly complemented Palmer and Co,” Roberts said of the downstairs bar that adjoins the restaurant. The actual build was lengthy but convivial. The builders’ comments were it was probably one of the happiest jobs they’ve ever been on: “From their end, it was relatively straightforward, which was good. The bones of the building, based in such an historic, well-built structure, it was actually quite good. But the design process was lengthy. It put us a long way behind as well.”

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE? Once the design had been finalised and the restaurant was opened, the problems were far from over. Mr Wong has an extensive menu and each visitor has different preferences. Some like all of their food to arrive almost at once. Others favour receiving one dish at a time. An initial plan to keep things simple wasn’t going to work. People’s expectations far exceeded that. “They expect hot towels,” Roberts explains. “They expect to have sommeliers on hand at all times. They expect all the fineries you would have in a great western restaurant applied to a Cantonese concept. It’s not easy and it’s one thing I really underestimated. “Having such a large menu, having that many people, having people from Asian backgrounds that like to eat a certain way, then others from a local background that like to eat a different way… But we’re getting there.”


CANTON EASE It is unrealistic to expect to please every person, every time but the team at Mr Wong hopes to achieve exactly that. Visitors have been flocking from across Australia and overseas. Whether it’s chefs and restaurateurs from Hong Kong and mainland China, local Cantonese enthusiasts or novices keen to see what the fuss is all about, Roberts is thrilled with the feedback to date. “Obviously when you open a business like this you get feedback from all types,” he said. “Overwhelmingly, the sheer scale, and the quality we’re doing for the scale, has been really, really well received. Comments from overseas? They are gobsmacked by the style. Some people feel that we’re not traditional enough. There’s no doubt we do have our own style. We’ve tried to keep it pretty authentic, but at the same time it is our own slight twist on the classics.” ON THEIR MERI WAY The term ‘institution’ is bandied about from time to time in the restaurant scene, but the reality is that precious few venues ever achieve that status. But that is the clear, stated aim for Mr Wong, which has made a superb start in that endeavour. “The goal of a restaurateur is for your place to become an institution,” Roberts agreed. “But the only way institutions become institutions, and remain institutions, is they have to evolve all the time. You can feel it. You’ll go to a place that might’ve been successful for so many years and one day you think ‘wow, something’s missing’. What’s missing is they stopped evolving. “Mr Wong is going to evolve a lot more and I’m really looking forward to it not feeling like a new restaurant anymore, but feeling like something that’s going to be there forever.”

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CHEF DE MISSION Masterchef Dining & Bar: AZBcreative: (02) 9029 1840 or

When venue visited the Melbourne iteration of the Masterchef Dining & Bar it was 12 days into a two-week build. The 52,000 pieces of scaffold were all locked ’n’ loaded; the full stainless steel kitchen was ready for the 30+ chefs; the tables, cutlery, crockery and napery were all neatly folded, stacked and buffed ready for the small army of wait staff; bathrooms were plumbed in; the audio was ready for the day-by-day DJ-programmed playlists… let’s face it, Vue de Monde was established with far less than this Masterchef vehicle, and ‘popup’ doesn’t begin to describe the breadth of the undertaking. The creative brain behind Masterchef Dining & Bar is Alex Zabotto-Bentley, boss of his increasingly-in-demand business, AZBcreative, and he knows a thing or two about scaffold. “I spent my childhood building things out of Meccano and now I’m doing something very similar!” And he’s making the humble scaff pipe do things that

would make your average tradie’s hair curl: “The Alfa Romeo upstairs bar is licensed for 100 and it’s supported by two pillar structures — which is unheard of.” But before you cancel your Masterchef dinner reservation, there’s no need for concern, the structure has every engineering stamp of approval you could hope for. In fact, the night before I arrived, it survived 140kmh squalls without so much as a proverbial tent-peg out of the ground.

NO COMPROMISE AZBcreative has done far more than piece together an elaborate Meccano structure, it’s designed something beautiful… only, at the end of the month it can be packed away and trucked to the next destination. There are many elements about the design that confound the normally accepted compromises of the demountable: large-scale decals give drama and geometry to the bar front and floors; the lighting feature above the kitchen is


RANGE, COST, RELIABILITY. each painstakingly packed with 15 Edison globes; the exhaust fans are integral to the stainless steel cooking stations (no ugly overhead vents); while there’s a high-level of amenity without any of the big-top hoopla of whirring fans and generators. Everywhere you look, there’s refinement that matches the five-course degustation menu. But if Masterchef Dining & Bar isn’t a ‘popup’ by design it is in purpose. Popups are a way of people experiencing a brand, and in this respect, the restaurant shines. Alex is a popup veteran — cutting his teeth on off-the-wall ‘happenings’ in Sydney, and is now is the go-to guy for one-offs such as the Woodford Reserve pavilion at the Stella Artois polo tournament — and clearly has had far more time to think this over than I have, hence his enviable eloquence: “Popups are a way to experience the culture of the brand; to be immersed in the brand. While you’re here, the brand talks to you. And when you walk out the other side, you understand the connection. And as humans, that’s what we want: a connection.”

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First Things First The Hellenic Club launches its multi-million dollar take on modern Greek. Story: Lucie Robson Alpha: 238 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW (02) 9098 1111 or



n 1926, a group of Greek shopkeepers and businessmen established the Hellenic Club in Sydney. The Club’s venue on Elizabeth Street opened in the late 1950s creating a meeting place — a venue for belonging, sharing experiences and continuing their Greek culture for new generations in a new country. The Hellenic Club, now has a bright new offering: the multi-faceted neo-classic Greek dining experience that is Alpha, located at 238 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. In a huge, airy space fronted by glass and awash with natural light, lunch and dinner crowds savour oldworld Greek dishes with an elegant modern twist. The man behind the food inspiration is Greek star chef Peter Conistis. He is in charge of Alpha’s three kitchens, serving up to 160 guests at a time. Taking shape in an abandoned historic Victorian building constructed in the late 1870s as a Protestant church, Alpha represents a new vision for the Club. Inside is a restaurant, cantina, café and mezze bar, while a gourmet food emporium, selling fine Greek produce to the public, is soon to open. CEO of the Hellenic Club Arthur Balayannis says that while the space is still evolving, the result will be a completely unique guest experience.

CRYSTAL CLEAR Paul Papadopoulos from Sydney interior design firm DS17 says that his brief for Alpha was crystal clear: “A dynamic space within a beautiful old building. To create and complement the chef’s vision of delivering the best Greek culinary experience in Australia. It was clear the vision was to design a food empire, with the restaurant, bar, mezze bar and food store, all in one.” Inside Alpha the smooth white columns, exposed brickworks, variety of timber furniture and warm lighting are a world away from the customary blue and white of many a Greek-by-rote taverna. There are no framed photos of Mykonos here — rather, a feature wall designed by DS17 and sculpted by artist Kim Akimovic that displays ancient Greek script carved into concrete, half-obscured as if still emerging from the remains of the Parthenon. “I love every aspect of the design and space, but the ancient Greek script art wall is particularly special to me — its a significant Alpha signature,” says Papadopoulos.

way to the formidable ‘Yiayia’s table’ (‘Grandma’s table’). Yiayia even scores its own special cutlery. Such is the attention to detail in Alpha’s design. Papadopoulos says that head chef Conistis had significant input in this respect, overseeing the implementation of particularly uniforms and crockery, making sure everything was just right. The building itself lay dormant since the 1970s. Its grandiose intentions are revealed in the high ceilings and robust columns of the interior, which bring a special character that management wanted to preserve. “The brief we’ve given to Paul was to highlight the existing elements within that building, and be as minimal as possible,” Balayannis explains. The upgrade of the building itself was the biggest challenge on the Alpha journey. Papadopoulos says that working on old buildings is always challenging but the features of this particular space were impressive. “The scale of facade of the building is amazing. The internal height and columns create an amazing grandeur.” “We had one goal in mind: to be new. Our guiding ATTENTION TO DETAIL The space is divided into multiple zones, including principle was based on the process of reducing the the mezze bar, café, restaurant and food emporium. architecture down to its essential concept of space, A variety of different size tables cater to groups all the light and form, with the final goal of inciting a positive human response in the space.”

“The black custom net light fittings are our interpretation of the modern greek fishing net. It’s all about creating shape, light and shadow.”

The large space uses a variety of furniture, lighting and decor to offer patrons plenty of options — everything from a solo drink at the bar to Yiayia’s 90th birthday family reunion. Meanwhile, the amazing wall feature allows diners to brush up on their ancient Greek.


MODERN GREEK Alpha is something decisively new in the world of Greek restaurants. It has attracted interstate interest and great applause from the Sydney restaurant scene, hosting Good Food Month and Gourmet Traveller events before its opening and being consistently booked out since. Conistis’ reputation has definitely contributed, Balayannis says. “He’s the pioneer of modern Greek cuisine in this country. Having someone of Peter’s background, Peter’s stature, makes what we’re trying to achieve here so much easier as well,” he explains. “Peter’s got a great following, and it’s how we take on or leverage that following to be able to deliver what we’ve delivered today.” Greek cuisine and influence has perhaps reached a new level, Balayannis believes. “It’s not your stereotypical taverna. Greeks in this country have been here for generations, and what we’re doing recognises that.” Already the launch of Alpha has generated more interest in the Hellenic Club among the Australian Greek community. This is the first stage of re-establishing the Club, to attract new membership and to enhance the promotion, fostering and celebration of Greek culture and tradition. Balayannis believes that guests will love Alpha for what it adds to the dining experience. “People are still looking for value for money, but also some degree of excitement. And I believe this venue provides an escape from the world outside. And that’s what it’s all about.”


CONTACTS DS17 (Architects): (02) 9555 1805 or Café Culture (Main Furniture Items): (02) 9699 8577 or Kim Akimovic (Feature Wall): Stylecraft (Chairs): Design Tiles: (02) 9567 8971 or Ztwo lights: (02) 9310 4045 or Les Intereurs (Artifacts): (02) 9999 1859 or Bose (PA):

Alpha chef, Peter Conistis, at home in his new playground.

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SMOOTH SAILING Story: James Dampney Zest Waterfront Venues 237 Spit Road, Mosman NSW (02) 9932 4600 or

The Middle Harbour 16ft Skiff Club has been a feature of the Sydney landscape since way back in 1902, making it one of the oldest sailing clubs in the country. But it also boasts a versatile, modern function space that puts it right at the forefront of venues for both corporate and private events in the harbour city. The Zest Waterfront Venue at The Spit in Mosman is a stunning example of relaxed luxury with a hint of glamour, situated right on the water. With the help of Michael McCann of Dreamtime Australia Design, warm timbers with imported stone, metal studded bar fronts, coffer lighting and a deep, covered and open balcony add up to the theme of an upmarket boathouse. Two operable walls ensure the key component of flexibility is rigidly adhered to, allowing seven different room configurations with capacities ranging from 20 to 350 people seated, plus more than 500 cocktail-style. Zest general manager Joan Loewensohn explains how the development played out: “When Rafael Kahn, the Managing Director, was looking at the venue and negotiating with the club about taking it over and adding a function component to it, the restaurant was taken over and the entire venue was gutted.

“The idea was to create effectively one space with operable walls within it to provide a dedicated club area. Then there is the flexibility with our operable walls to manage our function space, depending on the size of the event. “Flexibility was a key component of the renovation in terms of the look and feel to make it a boat house/beach house kind of feel.” There are three bars — a function bar, the bistro bar and a downstairs deck bar, with a boardroom below. The bistro seats more than 120 guests and can be joined to the function area for larger events. Zest caters for a wide range of events and conferences, but undoubtedly weddings reign supreme: “We’ve also got some great relationships with boats, for example where people can actually have their wedding ceremony in the city and then we bring them over by boat. “There’s a real wow factor to it.”

CONTACTS Dreamtime Australia Design: (02) 9368 0800 or


Andrew Utiger has a very neat way of summing up the look and feel of The Avenue — think: spiegeltent. Perfect. There’s a sense of fun, risk and excitement there. A bit of French cabaret, a bit of Berlin burlesque. And, like a spiegeltent, it’s round. “Which makes everything more expensive! Not even a standard door jam worked!” Andrew Utiger (The Arthouse Hotel, The Treehouse) is one of the partners in the enterprise and helped pull together a top-shelf team, with General Manager Richard Byrant (formerly of Keystone Hospitality) at the vanguard, along with head chef Simon Latham (Merivale and Flinders Inn). Meanwhile, the cocktail menu was designed by Jason Crawley.

CONTACTS Altis Architecture: Erilyan: (02) 8188 0700 or


Longtime co-conspirators, Altis Architecture, were responsible for The Arthouse [see Issue 1] and again applied their talents to The Avenue design. Altis took the concept and ran with it: “Ruth [Harris, Altis Associate] is simply great with finishes — she has such a great touch with fabric and colours,” enthused Andrew. Some of the design highlights include wrought iron fences sourced from India, hand-sculpted copper light fittings,

Italian granite etched with the bar’s logo, hand painted artwork by the amazingly talented Guy Hawson, a veritable brass band hanging from the ceilings, and a feature chandelier. The level of detail and the quality of the build is enviable. Andrew again: “The builders [Erilyan, based in Northbridge] were great. In fact, I’d go as far to say they helped make the process fun. It was the first time we’d used Erilyan, and they were fantastic — I can’t speak more highly of them.” The Avenue calls deepest, darkest Chatswood home, and even though apartments are being thrown into the air with breakneck speed, this is a venue that shakes up the retail epicentre’s equilibrium — The Avenue asks something of its clientele. Fortunately, people are responding. The superior food offering has instant appeal while according to Andrew the drinks trade is on an upward trajectory. “The Avenue is a different proposition for Chatswood,” noted Andrew Utiger. “The finishes — the copper and brass — the murals, the lamps, the booths... but ultimately it’s the feel that has really made it the venue it is.”

BUILDING THE AVENUE The Avenue was a challenging project for the architectural and building teams. Karl Mayoh and Tim Curtin, owners and directors of boutique building company Erilyan, are based in nearby Northbridge: “The site was incredibly challenging, located on a podium level at the base of a commercial office tower, all deliveries had to be manhandled up flights of stairs into the site. “The structure is circular which posed a whole host of detailing complexities and the connection of the majority of services was into the car park level below through an existing post tensioned slab that was up to 800mm thick in sections.” The project involved the creation of new structural exposed masonry walls, complete new services, new bar to serve the internal and external spaces, new commercial kitchen and two new cool rooms. “The fitout portion of the project was incredibly rewarding as the client was so passionate — the client knew exactly what he wanted and valued our opinion and input,” says Mayoh.


ROLL OUT Jimmy Grants: 113 St. David St, Fitzroy VIC Story: Christopher Holder

It’s not always easy to get hold of George Calombaris, what with all his media commitments and running a restaurant empire. But clearly there’s one way you can elicit a reaction, and that’s to accuse him of being a copy cat. Nahji Chu, she of Miss Chu fame, gave George a spray on Facebook, accusing him of ripping off her ‘tuckshop’ concept and her use of cultural heritage in his new Jimmy Grant souvlaki outlet. “You know what? We’re all working our arses off in the industry at the moment — we’re working harder than we’ve ever worked before. And what amazes me is that rather than sticking together, we’re just bullying each other,” George said in the Fairfax press. And in response to milking the ‘heritage’ angle? “My culture is just so important to me, and I’ve been celebrating my culture, my family, my history, my parents for years now. To claim I’ve stolen that idea is absolutely ridiculous.” Jimmy Grants in Fitzroy is an interesting diversion for the celeb chef best known for the Press Club, St. Katherine’s, Hellenic Republic, Maha and MamaBaba. It’s a far cry from the original fine dining of The Press Club. It’s a casual (I won’t mention the word ‘tuckshop’, promise) take on the classic souvlaki bar. The Jimmy Grants (rhyming slang for ‘immigrant’) fitout pays homage to 1960s Greek Australia. The brief from George Sykiotis (George C’s partner in Made Establishment, the company behind the restaurant empire) to Techné Architects was to recreate a warm family atmosphere of a Greek home in Collingwood back in the ’60s and ’70s.


“A retro ’60s styling does transport you to a Greek suburban home, as you sit among the action in the kitchen enjoying some great fresh flavours with the traditional souvlaki,” said George Sykiotis.

IT’S WHO I AM George Calombaris talks to venue about his personal Jimmy Grant journey.

venue: Why an informal diner? GC: It’s the challenge! An informal place like Jimmy’s is difficult, as you need to set the standard but maintain the height of that bar once its raised. It is a high volume and quick service model that delivers quality, healthy food while maintaining our integrity.

venue: Operationally, what were the key pieces of the puzzle that needed to come together, to succeed at posh fast food? GC: Being able to use my modern food techniques to make the product better. Taking the idea of a traditional souvlaki bar and turning into something modern, both in design and service. The food must be tasty, that is the most important aspect. You can’t take short cuts. If you can connect all these aspects, your doing okay. We’re still learning as we go.

venue: Talk me through the design from your perspective: what have you fallen in love with? GC: I love the fact we’ve recycled the majority of the old Press Club. That is something that’s exciting. In saying that, the design is functional; that’s key. Then, of course, the design must talk about the concept in simple terms. I love the raw materials (no fancy lights), and the fun feel of Jimmy’s — it is a souva bar after all. For me, the graphics are so important. The place represents myself and my business partner in so many ways. Its family, its real, it’s who I am.

There aren’t any obvious Greek references and Techné employed subtle hints within its construction such as blue and white geometric frieze-patterned tiles in the restaurant’s bathroom and kitchen together with the use of Cyprus pine fence cladding. These features work alongside warm Oregon timber and raw materials such as roof sheeting, concrete floors and steel structures for the seating that work with the local aesthetic. “One of the challenges of the project was the 125sqm space we were working with. The space had to accommodate the many services and amenities required, such as the kitchen, seating for 35, the bar, service area and it had to allow for a flow of traffic as people order and wait for their takeaway,” said Techné Director Nicholas Travers. “I have wanted to open a souvlaki bar for some time and now is definitely the right time. Eating out is a part of people’s weekly routine and thus you need to provide a unique offer with the food and the environment,” said Sykiotis. As for the Miss Chu storm in a teacup? I think it fitting to give George C, the last word, with this amusing quote: “Just wait and see what’s on the Jimmy Grants menu on Monday. A Vietnamese-inspired souvlaki with Vietnamese coleslaw and spit roast chicken. I might call it the Jimmy Chu. And I hope a dollar from every sale can go to an immigration charity.” Touché.

CONTACTS Techné Architects: (03) 9600 0222 or

CONTACTS Bergstrom Architects: (02) 8920 1499 or Calida (Builder): (02) 8203 5608 or


Earp Brothers (Clover Encaustic Tile): (02) 9410 3222


Havwoods: (Timber Cladding): 1300 428 966 or


White Mica (Press Metal Panel): (02) 8959 6475 or

4 Café Culture (Amalie Chairs & Tables): (02) 9699 8577 or 5

Café Culture (Lee Broom Crystal Pendants): (02) 9699 8577 or


Satellite (Bulb Pendants): (03) 9399 5805 or 7 Jands (JBL Contractor PA): (02) 9582 0909 or




NOBLE CAUSE Noble Canteen & Cocktails 50 King St, Sydney NSW (02) 9299 2929 or

The Noble Canteen & Cocktails has slipped elegantly into the King Street bar and restaurant precinct like a silk stocking into a suit pocket. Noble is part of the JDA Hotels stable and is a sophisticated new restaurant and cocktail bar cooking authentic Thai food. Thai food and cocktails… sound familiar? “Yes, we do draw comparisons to Longrain, but we do it at casual dining prices.” Restaurant Manager, Didier Nahum, is a 17-year industry veteran and knows how to launch a venue. He’s worked in the UK, Canada, Russia, France and has called Australia home for the past seven years. He explains the challenges of opening a concept like Noble. “It’s very competitive. King Street and Erskine Street are a hub for the new wave of small bars and people are very knowledgeable about their cocktails and food.” For Noble, according to Didier, it’s all about authenticity. “We pride ourselves in the authenticity of our Thai food. Our Consulting Chef, Air Jantrakool, has put together a menu that’s fresh and packed with natural products. Coconut milk and cream are made in house, and any natural colourings are extracted from dried Thai flowers.” The refit has been designed by Bergstrom Architects and includes plenty of drama and highlights: including the uplit timber vaulted ceiling, lighting features that include Lee Broom Crystal lights and Edison bulb pendants, a fabulous gold-pressed metal feature that runs the length of the ceiling and down the bar, and a distinctive barfront tile design.



6 7


NOBLE AV Tim Teasdale of TTE Group designed and installed the audio system. The system is based on JBL AC18 eight-inch speakers and ASB 6112 subs in the main room, supplemented by Control series surfacemount and ceiling speakers for an even spread of sound. “The JBL AC18 boxes are just the right size and look for the job, as well as providing enough coverage and level for the room.” Low frequency support comes from 2 x JBL ASB6112. “These boxes are remarkable for their size and are a lot friendlier to conceal in joinery.” Crown XTi and XLS amplifiers provide the power while a BSS BLU 100 takes care of the zoning. Two AMX touchpanels make for easy access to the audio, video and lighting functions, including a 94-inch motorised screen and projector. TTE Group: 0410 625 811 or Jands (JBL, Crown, BSS): (02) 9582 0909 or




Andy North, The Star’s Director of Food & Beverage

My, my how the old ‘Pyrmont RSL’ has changed. Echo Entertainment has lavished big money on the new Star and the result is a destination Sydneysiders can be truly proud of.

tralian produce. So straight away he was basing the menu around the best produce we offered locally, rather than taking a prima donna ‘this-is-what-we’re-going-to-do’ approach.”

There are three key planks in the success of the gaming complex: Gaming itself, the hotels business, and food & beverage (F&B).

These are the words of Andy North, The Star’s Director of Food & Beverage. Andy has one of the biggest jobs in the industry, with all of the signature restaurants reporting to him, along with all the bars, the food court, the Marquee Club, the Events Centre… everything from Momofuku to the in-room mini-bar.

And for those who aren’t huge punters it was certainly the big changes in F&B that have gained The Star the most publicity. Top-shelf chefs signed-up, starting with Luke Nguyen (Fat Noodle), then others such as Teage Ezard (Black), Stefano Manfredi (Balla), Chase Kojima (Sokyo), and Adriano Zumbo (Adriano Zumbo Pâtissier). But the biggest coup, was undoubtedly luring international superstar, David Chang (Momofuku).

Andy’s name will be familiar to most, having held down many a high-profile job over the years. But this role is undoubtedly the most challenging of his career. Let’s not forget, effectively, this pantheon of chef demi-gods are working for him:

“When David first arrived in Sydney for an exploration of what the menu might included, we took him to Vic Meats — to show him the best local meat — and then to the fish market. From there he came back and created a menu using Aus-

“The way the restaurants are run: they’re all Star’s. We own all of them but we consult with the David Changs, Teague Ezard and Stefano Manfredi etc so that their brands are working in tandem with ours. So again, it’s a win-win situation.”




Having all the big-name restaurants inside ‘the tent’ rather than as tenancies has it’s pros and cons. When Melbourne’s Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons flipped the ‘sorry we’re closed’ sign for good, it took many by surprise, and was, at best, a little embarrassing for Crown’s proud and professional F&B department. But avoiding the occasional financial disaster of one of its tenancies aside, some of the real benefit of The Star’s model is a more concerted marketing front.

Sounds like one big happy family. But you do wonder how some of the biggest names and personalities in food take to being dictated to…

“We’ve just recently run a truffle promotion across all the restaurants,” continues Andy North. “This month we’re running a crab promotion. So Black, Balla and Sokyo are using crab in different dishes. We’ll then move into Good Food Month with a number of promotions, including René Redzepi (Noma) coming to The Star to do his dinner with 10 other top chefs. That’s all far more feasible with Star driving a unified marketing campaign.”

“We are a family here. We’re all working to bring guests into The Star during tough trading conditions. And it’s working. We’re very happy with the visitation numbers, the regular guests who come back, and I think we all understand you just have to keep moving with the times and evolving. So, for example, with our crab promotion: it’s a very popular commodity, and we’re all aware that great produce is paramount, so we don’t get pushback from chefs. Rather we’ll get: ‘Oh great! I’ll use mud crab’ or ‘I want to use Alaskan king crab’, and ‘I’m going to use spanner crab!’ It actually tends to motivate and drive our chefs rather than the opposite — they’re engaged and motivated.”

Let’s do Lunch! 42

The Lunch Room: 727 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC


Story: Sophie Gebhardt

Bates Smart: (03) 8664 6200 or

Launched in July 2013, The Lunch Room, on the ground floor of 727 Collins Street, Melbourne, has given the concept of the ‘food court’ a definite shot in the arm. An essential part of Walker Corporation’s ongoing Collins Square development, The Lunch Room’s design, layout and tenants have been carefully selected for maximum comfort, style and tastebud appeal.


Unlike many of the office developments in the Docklands area, Walker’s focus was on creating a stylish retail space, while letting the filling of the offices run its natural course. Michael Spence, General Manager of Collins Square, says that, “Clearly, our office occupiers are important to us — they comprise probably 95% of the whole project — but it’s the retail that’s 100% of the experience for people. “So, when we get a visitor who comes to Collins Square, they’re not going to judge us by the quality of the lift lobbies upstairs, or the external architecture. Rather, it’s what it feels like to walk through the foyer, to touch and experience things, to have some sort of useful engagement with the project.” Walker initially engaged Bates Smart to design a master plan for the space, to best utilise the building’s levels, light and position. “We obviously started with the carpark first, and then, as we’ve come up, we’ve designed the retail. And then we’ve let the office space grow organically out of that, not the other way around.” Once the master plan was complete, Walker collaborated with Blackmilk interior design to put the fine details on The Lunch Room. And the results are outstanding, not only in the mouth-watering selection of food to choose from, but also in the striking, distinctive and welcoming design of the outlets themselves.

Blackmilk interior design: (03) 9429 3328 or

Featuring a range of food from Mexican to Japanese, to Korean and Indian, alongside modern Australian cuisine, amongst others, there is enough choice in The Lunch Room to eat something different every day of the working week. Michael Spence comments that the selection of food tenants was deliberate and entailed a lot of thought. “We wanted to create a variety of choice for our office workers, and for visitors to the building. You want to be able to sit around and have an informal meeting, and grab a coffee and cakes. You also want to be able to get lunch at the right price point and have that diversity, so you don’t have to think about where your lunch is coming from or eat the same dish every day.”

THINKING INSIDE THE (COLLINS) SQUARE Blackmilk has individually outfitted each shop with a distinctive look, yet a number of unifying elements run throughout the space. Touches of timber, a complementary palette of greens and reds, and clean, warm surfaces tie together the many cuisines on offer at The Lunch Room. It’s a delightful space, with communal benches and stools for solo eaters, separate areas for office parties or big groups, or the usual tables for two, three or four. As the first retail section to open of the five-building Collins Square development, The Lunch Room bodes well for Walker’s intention of creating a ‘link between Melbourne’s CBD and the Docklands’. While geared to the development’s office workers, The Lunch Room has the potential to become a popular eating spot for locals and tourists as well — something like the old Southgate ‘food court’ with a whole lot more panache.

The Oaks. Paul Kelly Design has transformed one of Sydney's most iconic hotels into a venue where old-world charm meets modern sophistication. Experience it for yourself.


TREE CHANGE Nowadays, pub patrons want it all and with its new refurbishment, The Oaks is the place to get it. Story: Lucie Robson The Oaks Bar & Grill 118 Military Rd, Neutral Bay NSW ()2) 9953 5515 or


Rare Find: The Oaks Butcher is a nifty innovation: patrons can discuss the finer points of their cut of steak with the in-house butcher prior to showing it the flame.


he Oaks originally opened way back in 1885 and was bought by the Thomas family in 1975. The owners have recently spent $4m to ensure the pub can now match the best in the industry in terms of food offerings and pub experiences. Sydney firm Paul Kelly Design was engaged to breathe new life into the classic pub’s interior, retaining its beloved art deco character. Stage 1, now open to the public, encompasses a revamp of The Oaks Bar & Grill dining room, and Stage 2 will comprise a whole new space outdoors, currently under construction. “The Oaks  is a national treasure,” says principal designer Paul Kelly, “And at every step of the  way we were mindful of the rich history that the hotel brought to the industry.” Situated as it is among upmarket restaurants and wine bars on the North Shore, Kelly was tasked with giving The Oaks a dining room that could rival both. Due to recent decades of development in the suburb, the pub found itself needing to attract younger patrons back to its rooms, as well as keep the steadfast mature crowd that has provided consistent support. So the key was to strike a balance between the old and the new.

“The visual historical links in  the  fitout were crucial to the acceptance of the space for the wide market that refer to the hotel as one of their own,” Kelly continues. “We used a lot of references to the art deco period and the perceived market familiarity with heritage in a hospitality space, as in what the market believes is a true historical link.”

COOK-YOUR-OWN EDGE The new Bar & Grill room has the ‘timeless edge’ that Kelly recognised the pub needed. Design elements have a ‘hand-made’ feel to them — tartan carpets, timber wall cladding, ribbed leather banquette seating and a large gas fireplace are among the standout features. Part of creating a welcoming dining area was making the room less imposing by dividing it into smaller zones. In order to break up the huge room into more intimate spaces for guests, Kelly implemented glass and timber screens. “I really like the  complete zone feeling that you get in the smaller spaces we’ve created,” he says. “These spaces can really transport you to a place that is not a recreation of time gone by, but of a re-invention of a great time of quality and honesty. The firm went the extra mile with the finishing touches as well, spending time with engineers to improve the acoustics of the room.

The hotel has invested in an entirely new central kitchen which can serve up to 400 meals an hour, feeding the whole venue from the bright new menu. The dining room is where the magic happens – steak. It was back in the ’70s that The Oaks introduced the concept of guests cooking their own steaks, just the way they liked it. A new addition, then, to the dining room is ‘The Oaks Butcher’, where an in-house butcher prepares cuts of meat for guests, who cook it themselves at a designated station or leave it to one of the chefs. It is a continuation of an Oaks tradition and a fun feature that sets the pub’s restaurant apart from its competition.

ART DECO STEAK “We used elements that the  clientele can relate to,” says Kelly. “We drew on our experience in  the  steakbased concepts we had completed previously that were for  the  younger markets, and then adapted those to have a historical reference (in this case, art deco) to be appealing to the existing clientele. “We also selected items that were  the  essence of  the  original space, in this case  the  tartan carpet, which the  younger/newer markets think is quite dynamic, but it is referenced to the older customers.”

WALK IN CELLAR Wine lovers are receiving special attention at The Oaks. The pub has spent considerable time putting together a list to rival specialised wine bars in the area. These are stored in a walk-in, temperature-controlled glass atrium, accessible by guests who can then select the wine of their choice. This is a feature guaranteed to appeal to older and younger generations, says Kelly. Well-concealed drop-down screens have been installed in the bar and grill area for special television and sporting events. SPECIAL BRANCH Kelly had previously come across a collection of delicate botanical drawings from the 1800s and thought they would be perfect for The Oaks — little slices of Australiana decorating the walls. By a happy coincidence, the management were able to acquire the original glass plate prints from the State Library and they can now be seen in the dining room. "They are a nice talking point, and it sets the mood," says Kelly. All these features give the offerings at The Oaks a special edge, Kelly believes. "It’s on  the  cusp between a classic pub and a restaurant," he explains. “Everything here has been done properly and done well.” 


RIDING THE NIGHT CRANE The Oaks and Paul Kelly Design trusted building and construction company The Chillie Group with the upgrades. Director Graeham Wem says that the project’s biggest challenges were accessing the site through the main doors on Military Road, working with night cranes and keeping the pub open to guests throughout the process. A temporary kitchen was created in the beer garden area to ensure food service could continue. “I think the  design has captured  the  essence of  The  Oaks  hotel everyone is familiar with, while transforming  the  old image with a gastro pub vibe that will attract a wide demographic,” says Wem, who believes that the redesign hits the mark in terms of what patrons are currently looking for: “A new vibe, fresh spaces, good food and an excellent range of beer and wine.” Stage 2 of The Oaks’ revitalisation is the Garden Pavilion, what Kelly describes as an “English-styled orchid conservatory”, alongside the famous oak tree in the beer garden; “it’s the ‘day’ to The Oaks Bar & Grill’s ‘night’”. The updated outdoor space will be open in time for the summer crowds and will add much-needed function space to the venue, providing 80 seats and a standing function capacity of 120.

“The interiors are truly stunning and this will be a welcome addition, with its 1950s links to the hotel and its completion of what  the  whole  Oaks business will become,” says Kelly.

CONTACTS Paul Kelly Design: (02) 9660 8299 or The Chillie Group (Builder): (02) 9600 8788 or Beckton Joinery: (02) 9453 4744 or Hughes Commercial Furniture: 1800 242 479 or Whitecliffe Imports (Carpet): (02) 8595 1111 or Real Flame (Fireplaces): Euroluce (Wall & Pendant Lights): (02) 9356 9900 or Ultra Lift (Screen Fold Down): Artedomus (Feature Stone Tiles): Insound (AV): Nightlife Music: 0404 556 727 or

‘Gotta love that carpet’, you may well be saying. Paul Kelly Design and Whitecliffe Imports collaborated on this bespoke Agnella woven Axminster Carpet (80% wool/20% nylon). “Agnella carpet features include: its fast track-ability, excellent appearance retention, and low-cost maintenance.”

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I WOOD The Woods is the Four Seasons Sydney restaurant — just don’t call it ‘in house’. Story: Julia Langham The Woods: Four Seasons Hotel, 199 George Street, Sydney NSW (02) 9250 3160 or

N 48

othing evokes ‘warmth’ quite like the honey lustre of timber and with lashings of the good stuff, The Woods, a restaurant housed within the Four Seasons Sydney, is so hot right now. The Woods threw open its doors for business in December 2012, following hot on the heels of the hotel’s glamorous new bar, Grain [see Issue 52]. Fully embracing the ligneous theme, The Woods specialises in wood-fired fare, under the capable direction of executive chef, Hamish Ingham. Together with business partner, Rebecca Lines, the foodie power couple co-own one-hatted Bar H in Surry Hills. The Four Seasons Sydney embarked on a series of renovations under outgoing General Manager, Vincent Hoogewijs. After the guest rooms were modernised in 2009/10, the function rooms were renovated, with the opportunity to convert a little used function room to a happening new bar (Grain). A decision was made to create the new in-house restaurant off the lobby, rather than the existing first floor space where iconic ’80s restaurant Kables (arguably the birthplace of Mod Oz) once stood. This allowed The Woods to become a destination restaurant, rather than one catering mainly to hotel guests and was part of Mr Hoogewijs’ plan to create an ‘unhotel restaurant’. “We aimed to create a standalone restaurant that didn't feel like a ‘typical’ hotel restaurant,” Mr Hoogewijs said. “We also wanted to stay away from ‘fine dining’ and position the restaurant as a true Sydney dining venue, with a focus on great quality produce, emphasising the cooking method: woodfired oven and wood-fired grill.” He believes this has been achieved, with guests commenting that being seated in the upper level feels like a cool New York, LA or Sydney restaurant, rather than a traditional hotel restaurant. “The place feels like a restaurant, that happens to be in a hotel,” he added.

BACK TO THE ROOTS Dreamtime Design, under the direction of Michael McCann (also responsible for Grain and the function

floor), oversaw the transformation of the space previously occupied by a rather dated low-lit bar. The resulting space is open-plan and split level, with curving ramps entering from the lobby framed by a wall of customised brass lanterns between the restaurant and the public area. A spacious low-benched open kitchen at the rear of the upper level adds to the theatre of an intimate and welcoming hearth. Details include a giant handhewn wood chopping block, a live herb wall with elaborate ceramic ‘roots’ and a bar on the lower level. There’s also a semi-private dining room for intimate business lunches and functions with walls of timber shelving and banks of fine-stemmed Woods-branded glassware. It’s a fusion of library and cellar with low lighting, intimate nooks, leather bound volumes (cookbooks) and wine bottles. Lots of them.

TIMBER MANIFESTO Drawing heavily on the timber manifesto, Dreamtime made generous use of Australian and exotic wood throughout. This was often teamed with the gentle glow of antique brass and soft leather to invoke a cozy, warm ambiance. In the lower level casual dining/bar area the enormous 15m bar was hand-crafted by Athol Wright of Country Design Furniture. It’s constructed of roughly-hewn salvaged Victorian Redgum with its rear wall featuring internally lit, aged brass wine boxes reminiscent of food packaging crates, lending it an old school industrial feel. The Woods’ upper level boasts a rough wood-plank clad floor and hot and cold kitchens clad in dramatic mosaic Brazilian granite. The hot kitchen features a Queensland Porphyry stone-clad wood-fired oven actually located outside the kitchen proper where roasts and breads are prepared. A eye-catching rear wall is constructed of hand cut black and white glass mosaic tiles mimicking a chef’s pantry.Conversely the cold kitchen features black and white ‘hair on cowhide’ wall cladding protected by super-clear glass in the same chef’s pantry theme. This custom made installation was created by renowned leather artisan, Texan Kyle Bunting.


SO HOT RIGHT NOW The Steyne Hotel delivers Chinese. Manly Phoenix: 75 The Corso, Manly NSW (02) 9977 2988 or

Story: Lucie Robson Images: Marcus Clinton Photography


sk any local and they will tell you: living in Manly is like living in a small town. If you travel to any country town in NSW and around Australia there will more often than not be a familyrun Chinese restaurant down the road. When we were deciding which type of restaurant to put upstairs, a Chinese restaurant seemed to be the best fit.” That’s how Project Manager Joseph Stephen encapsulates this restaurant job.


FEATHER TOUCH Phoenix has landed at the Hotel Steyne in Manly. The latest Phoenix incarnation greets the visitor with a timber-heavy entrance, sensual hanging lanterns and wide windows gazing over the beachside ’burb. Each Phoenix property (Castle Hill, Parramatta, Rhodes, CBD and now The Steyne at Manly) has its own design identity while fitting into the elegant red-and-timber brand signature. Publican Gerard Dore worked with Stephen and a core team on the hotel’s substantial renovations, of which Phoenix is the latest star offering. “Hotel Steyne has had a huge facelift and is now the village of Manly’s only pub, bar or café where there’s something for everybody, and every generation,” says Stephen. “From the early hours of the morning surfers come straight off the water into the Rope & Anchor Café [located to the side of the main pub] to get not only their caffeine hit, but also to have a yarn with the local baristas and staff.” In addition to Phoenix upstairs, Hotel Steyne encompasses accommodation, a large inner courtyard, the Moonshine Cider & Rum Bar live music venue and an additional bar, Blacket’s Fine Spirits & Ale Bar, that has a prohibition-era vibe. Stephen believes The Hotel Steyne is a community-driven pub. “Even through its mammoth renovation over the past three years it has stayed true to its village community pub culture,” he says. “They still house the punters club, they still do the meat raffle and they sponsor a helluva lot of community sporting and cultural groups.” 

The barfront is constructed of 100-year old wharf timber.

“An overtly ostentatious approach does not suit a seaside environment like Manly.”



DISHING IT UP The Hotel Steyne has seen multiple owners and design approaches in its century of existence, not all of them particularly harmonious with the character of the building and its surrounds, Stephen adds. “The biggest challenge was turning upstairs as a whole into an area that reflected the 100-year-old heritage of the hotel and converting it into a restaurant that fitted a new market in a restored classic pub.” The initial restaurant construction was designed by Architectural Projects with Arcon Australia as the builders. “The work is a mix of heritage and innovation,” says Jennifer Hill of Architectural Projects. “The essential character of the art deco hotel was maintained and reinforced in the new space. The existing heritage stair was extended to Level 3 as a dynamic vertical shaft. The external glazing was transformed to an openable wall to create a restaurant, like the lower bar, that was both indoor and outdoor. The space was defined by transparent screens [see main image] that filtered light from the sunlit exterior to the internal garden courtyard.” The restaurant sports curved banquette seating (in a figure-8, an important number signifying prosperity in the Chinese tradition), while the bamboo flooring, green slate tiles, the red of the mosaic tiles and lacquered doors all reference the Sino theme. Design firm Group GSA was then brought in to theme the restaurant (to suit the Phoenix brand) in collaboration with Next Constructions; transforming the venue into a Chinese restaurant with a classic edge, within a pub. “We wanted to maintain the relaxed rustic and lived-in brand of the iconic Manly landmark in the Hotel Steyne, yet bring in elements of sophistication and detail that define the space and give the restaurant its brand identity,” says Group GSA Associate Angela O’Connor. “We try to provide a distinctive element at each site that suits that market and, as we understand it, this tangible and evolving yet distinct identity is being embraced wholeheartedly at all levels of the Phoenix Group.” FAMILY TIME So what is the key to integrating a distinctive restaurant within a large and diverse establishment? “Don’t try and take over the whole complex,” says Stephen. “Each space should work in collaboration with the other major spaces as well as amenities and other facilities so the whole entity works in harmony.” Just as pub bistros and Chinese restaurants across the country appeal to multiple generations, there’s space and seating for everyone. “The range of seating caters to the diverse clientele. Families, groups, couples  and individuals are all accommodated. It  entices patrons to return to experience a different side of the restaurant — high bar seating, low booth seating, outdoor seating which all convey different feelings at different times of the day, as well as prolonging the experience as patrons move from area to area.  “My favourite elements would have to be the transformation of the iconic Phoenix bird emblem [pictured this page] into a 3D sculpture as well as the lighting design throughout the restaurant, starting at ground level. All in all, the timber elements and rustic finishes are the finishing touches that makes the restaurant what it is.” FEET ON THE GROUND Manly is a ferry ride from the city and on a sunny day attracts beachgoers from far and wide who come for its sparkling location and village atmosphere. Stephen says: “An  overtly  ostentatious approach does not suit a seaside environment like Manly. The patrons and clientele attracted to these venues are both locals and tourists, and a look and feel that is comfortable, lived-in and captures the beach location works for both these groups. This more accessible approach to design reflects a broader trend in hospitality design that is less about perfection and more about capturing a unique character.”

CONTACTS Stephen & Co. Pty Ltd (Client Project Manager): 0420 698 812 or Group GSA (Architects): (02) 9361 or Arcon Australia (Builder): (02) 8305 4100 or Architectural Projects: (02) 9319 1122 or Next Constructions (Builder): (02) 9550 6100 or H&H Collection (Hive Geisha Lantern): (02) 9693 5566 or Design Hub (Tasmanian Oak Battens): (02) 9666 8800 or

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This being our Restaurant Special, it’s well worth taking a look back at the lighting design for Rosetta Ristorante at Crown Melbourne — opened late 2012 and Neil Perry’s third in the complex. The interior design by Iain Halliday does a good job at presenting a luxurious traditional aesthetic. The aim for the lighting, by Sara McClintock and Bernie Tan-Hayes at POV Melbourne, was to strike a similar contemporary/traditional balance, and create the illusion that the light emanates from traditional sources such as Venetian chandeliers, table lamps and brass picture lights. This was achieved with downlights hidden within the ceiling detailing; LEDs and fibre optics are cached behind domes, joinery and picture lights. During the day Rosetta is filled with natural light flooding into the room from every direction. The interior lighting plays a supportive role during the day, presenting a bright space where the interior architecture is enhanced to the full. With an extraordinary view of Melbourne’s skyline, Rosetta seats 100 people in the restaurant and 80 on the heated alfresco terrace overlooking the promenade and Yarra River.

CONTACTS PointOfView Lighting: Rosetta:

With the passing of daylight, the restaurant is transformed: Murano glass chandeliers and table lamps play the lead roles in the space. Key materials are subtly revealed through the use of concealed lighting: timber veneer, marble gold trims and Braille curtains make an understated appearance, contrasting with accented artwork and murals. Displays of

wine glasses are directly illuminated to add sparkle which then bounces off the chandeliers. At the heart of Rosetta’s fast-paced display kitchen is a wood-fired oven and char-grill for suckling pig, roast chicken and wood-fired suckling lamb. Head Chef Brendan Sheldrick works closely with Neil Perry, and there are two dedicated pasta chefs who hand craft over 16 different kinds of pasta daily. A small bar in the centre of the dining room, with views to the kitchen, seats 10 lucky guests who can enjoy the theatre and artistry of the chefs. A private dining room, with a spectacular Warhol-inspired mural of Michelangelo’s Last Supper, accommodates 20. “We are very lucky to have the opportunity to work with Neil,” said Sara McClintock, senior designer at POV. “He is passionate about the details in all aspects of his restaurants, and it’s this which takes the dining experience to another level.” Perry is knowledgeable in the magic that lighting can bring to a space, and encouraged POV to achieve a sense of intimacy at every table. “Even the bustling kitchen was considered a space where warm light is essential,” said McClintock. “It a great pleasure to light a restaurant of this quality, and contribute to an ambiance where guests can truly enjoy their food and company,” said Mark Elliott, design director of POV.


After transforming the food scene of Brisbane more than 17 years ago, Brisbane chef and creator of famed e’cco Bistro, Philip Johnson has opened Bistro One Eleven and One Eleven Espresso. Located in the lobby of the new Cox Rayner designed office development One One One, Bistro One Eleven is the elegant and relaxed dining space feeding corporate crowds to inner-city dwellers alike. Open for breakfast through to dinner and late night drinks, Bistro One Eleven boasts an elegant array of modern Australian cuisine encapsulating completely, the classic Philip Johnson style. For years, his menus have espoused the idea of simply prepared food based on quality produce, with Bistro One Eleven being no different. The produce-driven menu which centres on local seasonal produce delivers warm and robust dishes giving Bistro One Eleven a noticeably “different soul” to its predecessor, e’cco Bistro. Creator, Philip Johnson believes in letting quality produce speak for itself: “The One Eleven Concept is based around the idea of relaxed elegance seen in all elements of our clientele’s experience, from the modern design of the venue and the simply prepared dishes right through to the no-fuss menu. Bistro One Eleven:

A rundown heritage showroom in Melbourne’s suburban Windsor has become the home of the second restaurant under the banner of local taqueria, Fonda Mexican. Demolition of the neglected space uncovered the spectacular shell of the building, and the design was built around highlighting the pre-existing features. This included the beautiful cathedral ceiling and trusses, stained glass windows and other period ornamentation. Techne Architects put its stamp on many custom elements that include rope-strung benches that reflect traditional Mexican craft and pendant lights based around Acapulco chairs. Complementary furniture imported from Los Angeles provide a unique highlight to the dining room and ties the design to a vibrant geometric floor pattern conceived in collaboration with graphic designers Goldenhen. Fonda: Techne: (03) 9416 0847 or

AYE AYE CAPTAIN Captain Baxter is named after a swashbuckling early settler and the name instantly sets it apart from the previous occupant of the St. Kilda site: Paul Mathis’ one-time vegetarian institution, Soulmama. Two couples — Tom and Amara Doolan, Angela and Matt Dawson — are behind the venture and had visions of a ‘cool’ cocktail bar and lounge that would attract a new clientele to the Sea Baths site with a higher quality product and point of difference to their other venues nearby – notably Republica and Encore. They instructed Dana Hutchins from Hutch interior design who set about evoking the bohemian heyday of St. Kilda’s social scene — graffiti, art deco architecture, tiled surfaces, worn leathers, smoked and blackened timbers and steel. A secondary layer of glamour and sophistication was added with luxurious deep lounges, velvets, large marble surfaces, brass chandeliers and fine glassware, cutlery and crockery. Its intended to be playful, a little James Bond, with an enviable location, injections of colour, character, and glamour. The volume of the existing space is large, rectangular and open with an exposed gable roof line. There is a serious 15m long bar with a back bar of views, serving up impressive cocktails. The bar is intentionally minimal to allow the staff preparing drinks to serve the 400 or so patrons on a Summer’s day… and the views steal the show. There’s a multitude of seating options: a curved lounge area enclosed by a brick and leather lounge, a selection of large booth seats along with traditional dining chairs, and barstools. Captain Baxter: (03) 8534 8999 or Deadwood Furniture (Joinery): (03) 9761 7628 or The Seatery (Upholstery): (03) 9720 0042 or

GOING TO TOWN Town Hall Hotel: 166 Johnston Street, Fitzroy VIC (03) 9416 5055 or

Harry Lilai is one of the first names of the Melbourne culinary scene. His CV is formidable and too lengthy to detail in full. But prior to making the Town Hall Hotel his own, Harry spent 10 years at Cecconis (eight at Crown Casino as Head chef and the following two years at the Flinders Lane site as Executive chef and partner). You get a sense that Harry and his wife Michelle have really settled into a relaxed groove at Town Hall Hotel — the restaurant is classy without being uptight. The freshly-refurbished interiors are light, bright and welcoming. There’s plenty of flexibility within the venue: a softly lit cellar dining room, two separate main dining spaces, a front bar area and a sizeable upstairs function room, all share the traditional corner pub site. Centred around a modern Italian menu, the portions are generous, the flavours robust, yet balanced and considered. The hungry can choose from a quick tasty counter meal in the front bar, to something more substantial in the intimate dining rooms.

THE EASTERN GREEK The Eastern in Bondi Junction has undergone a real transformation of late, instituting a whole world of eye-catching and mouth-watering dining and quaffing options. Anatoli (on Level 1) is a modern Greek restaurant helmed by Chef Matt Fitzgerald (El Topo, ex Bentley Restaurant & Bar and Bather’s Pavilion), along with restaurant manager Wimmy Winkler (Quay, Becasse, and Claude’s Restaurant), and sommelier Manuel Conti (Marque, two Michelin star Il Pellicano and three Michelin star Enoteca Pinchiorri, both in Italy). Anatoli’s fitout by The Gentry is chic and understated with smooth lines, dark wood, oversized chalkboards and European feature panelling. A combination of bistro- and barstyle seating is centred around the imposing oval marbled bar which serves as an open pastry kitchen and, along with the busy open kitchen, brings to life the space, creating theatre and engagement. Anatoli: The Gentry: 0413 664 250 or


GOTCHA GOCHI Crown Melbourne has a new addition to its casual dining arsenal, Gochi — a modern take on a traditional Japanesestyle restaurant. There are stylish contemporary motifs in the Mim Design fitout that provide a modern take on the traditional: items such as the chopstick have been transformed into feature custom-designed lighting which scale the walls; while the interwoven rope ceiling structure creates a textural element throughout. The screened façade provides transparency and a sense of mystery and intrigue to passers-by. The colour palette of black, red and warm timbers makes for an affectionate nod to traditional Japanese interiors, adding warmth and comfort to the overall space. (Image: Shannon McGrath)


Gochi: Mim Design: (03) 9826 1266 or

MOTHER NATURE Grain Store offers Melbourne’s crowded café scene something a little different: top quality restaurant food from chef Ingo Meissner with a focus on sustainable and ethical food and resources. Chef Ingo Meissner says: “I go direct to source to find the very best Victorian, seasonal produce. I don’t try to improve on Mother Nature, as she is the real artist, I just frame the beauty of her produce.” Grain Store uses St Ali specialty blends for milk-based coffee and Axil’s seasonal espresso blend for espressos all through the ‘Queen’ of coffee machines, a ‘La Marzocco’. The Grain Store uses produce supplied from Brunswick’s Ceres Market Gardens and local farmers. The Grain Store is also a proud Cere’s Depot dropoff point, meaning customers can order their fruit and veg supplies dropped off weekly by the Cere’s team — grown locally and seasonally. Grain Store:

THE SPRINGS HAS SPRUNG The Springs is a new destination at Peats Ridge on NSW’s Central Coast. Featuring interiors by Rooz & Rooz Design, the 18-hole golf course and new club now features two dining spaces developed by International Executive Chef, Mario Schwallie (ex Brasserie in London, Gleneagles in Scotland and Cambridge Beaches Resort and Spa in Bermuda). The Sitting Duck is a casual industrial space featuring great food complemented by an excellent Australian and overseas wine list designed by Peter Bourne. The menu focuses on fresh seasonal produce. The venue can also cater for a range of stylish special events and functions, including sit down dinners (up to 200 guests) and cocktail parties (up to 370 guests), and a custom created menu by Schwaille to suit your occasion. The Springs: Rooz & Rooz Design: (02) 9387 5599

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The Meat & Wine Co. only has itself to blame. Its Darling Harbour flagship restaurant in many ways defined the modern steakhouse paradigm in this country. Its success spawned a herd of wannabes, aping the low-lit, masculine style. It’s got to the point where Meat & Wine has been compelled to look to another differentiator: its heritage. The Meat & Wine Co. hails from South Africa — a country that arguably enjoys throwing meat over a flame even more than we do — and has experienced success both here, at home and in the Middle East. Its latest restaurant launches have made the South African heritage far more evident. Meanwhile, there’s the Intercontinental Hotel Sydney which, I’m sure, would freely admit that it’s not nailed the pivotal ground floor Macquarie Street tenancy… until now. Occupying some prime real estate in the original heritage building, the search was on to find a partner that would best fulfil the role of popular ‘house’ restaurant as well as servicing the lucrative ‘big end of town’ lunch trade. The Meat & Wine Co. is a bullseye for the five-star hotel operator. The new restaurant is constrained by a heritage overlay — the structure is sacrosanct — but the new layout sees the bar moved to the front and good use of the remaining floor space. The Meat & Wine Co.’s interior designer of choice, DS17, has been developing the new look and the plantation shutters and ceiling fans work well within the monolithic colonial architecture. Elsewhere, the black and white photography, objet d’art and custom-made furniture (with just a touch of tribal) bring a level of exotic sophistication. But for mine, the ‘easter egg’ is the ‘meat fridge’ private dining — nothing exotic here, just a faux walk-in coolroom with easy access to the kitchen. It’s all about the meat, and definitely one for those who share The Meat & Wine Co. steak obsession. The Meat & Wine Co: DS17 (Architects): (02) 9555 1805 or Ambient Technology (Outline PA): (03) 9731 7242 or

SHANGHAI COMFORT The acclaimed David’s of Prahran, is open again with a completely new look and new menu. One might be forgiven for walking straight past the new David’s, as it is a completely different looking restaurant. The menu is defined as ‘country Shanghai comfort’ and presents robust, flavoursome dishes created for sharing, which are served with David’s relaxing or invigorating signature teas as well as extensive wine list. The new look David’s imbues the feeling of walking into a contemporary warehouse or loft, but with dining nooks, rustic chairs and tables. Chinese paper lanterns (made in France… go figure) are festooned throughout the restaurant and details such as Chinese porcelain teapots filled with chopsticks and rustic stackable waiters stations add to the relaxed, modern mood. “Hecker Guthrie’s design for the new David’s draws on the heritage of old Shanghai and Melbourne’s lively hospitality scene, and gives a new life to the warehouse architecture of the building,” says interior designer Hamish Guthrie. “We have brought a playful, fresh design to the established restaurant while reflecting the traditional honesty, simplicity and homeliness of the new menu on offer from David”. The enthusiastic David Zhou is delighted with the new look David’s restaurant. He believes that the restaurant is in step with the preferred way of dining and imbibing, as people are eating out more often and are looking for quality, affordable and dependable locales with which to do so. (Image: Shannon McGrath) David’s: Hecker Guthrie: 03 9421 1644 or

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Chef Dave Verheul has hatched a menu rich in seasonal produce that flaunts the extensive range of local offerings he has discovered since arriving in Melbourne from New Zealand. Owner Christian McCabe says the menu showcases an array of original and award-winning techniques. McCabe, who set a benchmark for New Zealand’s hospitality industry with his 2008 Cuisine NZ Restaurant of the Year, Matterhorn, has teamed up with sister Amber McCabe (previously Longrain) and Jay Comeskey (previously St Ali) to create a casual yet supremely professional front of house crew. Interiors by Kiwi designer Allistar Cox create a combination of glamour, old-school charm and an honesty engendered by hand-crafted and natural materials. “The design of The Town Mouse is an idealised portrayal of how we believe the everyday should be lived — just because something is nice doesn’t mean it should be saved for a special occasion. Being with friends and family is special enough,” McCabe said. The Town Mouse:

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TAP Range

Pebble Modular Seating

Breeze Lounger

Dessein Furniture is a proud designer, producer and retailer of original, affordable and sustainable Australian-designed furniture. Dessein Furniture was founded in 2012 by Principal Michele Chow, in response to a rising demand in local consumer and contract markets for uniquely styled, contemporary, locally designed timber furniture. For its inaugural collection, the TAP Range, Dessein Furniture has engaged celebrated craftsman and designer Jon Goulder, internationally acclaimed furniture designer Adam Goodrum, and Melbourne-based industrial designer Justin Hutchinson, to conceive a range of items that is distinctive, versatile, and enduring in style. Ideal for hospitality applications, the TAP Range is modern and Australian.

Being a product of nature, Pebble Modular Seating has evolved to include a new backrest design by Schamburg+Alvisse, making it even more versatile — back to back, face to face, or sideways, you choose which way you want to sit. Tall and short in three widths, new Pebble Backs are angled and slightly flexible. Add soft back ‘pads’ for some colour and maximum seating comfort. Enjoy hours of fun arranging Pebble into endlessly imaginative collaborative settings in corporate breakout areas, training rooms, schools and libraries. Also added to the collection is the Pebble Pedestal table, 600mm high for laptop or 500mm high as a side table. Alone or clustered in groups of two or three for an extended surface area. Pebble is available in a range of affordable options, all sporting a forest-friendly, GECA certification.

In response to popular demand Tait has expanded its highly successful Breeze collection of daybed, sofa and table, to encompass the Breeze Lounger. Refined yet robust in scale, the Breeze Lounger is perfect for smaller balcony and courtyard spaces. The Breeze Lounger can be powder coated in any colour, with beautiful Spotted Gum timber arms available in stained black or simply oiled. Finished in any outdoor upholstery, the Breeze Lounger features outdoor grade cushioning and foam, with removable cushion covers for easy washing.

Dessein Furniture: 0439 161 178 or

Zenith Interiors: 1300 013 013 or

Tait: (03) 9419 7484 or


Trame Chair

Tuck Stool

Soren Chair

Within this swirling modern framework beats the heart of woven handcraft. Exploring and expanding upon the art of traditional weaving, the Trame Collection from Kenneth Cobonpue begins upon a frame of five interlocking asymmetrical loops around which vibrant fibres encircle and interlace. Trame has been designed by Federica Capitani.

Tuck is a colourful range of stackable stools that utilise a playful fold pattern for strength and aesthetic lightness. “We were inspired by the structural patterns found in children’s paper fortune tellers,” said codesigner Sarah Gibson. Next came finding the right materials: Tuck stool is made from zinc-plated steel, which is folded to form a single leg section. Four legs are then used to create a complete stool and are connected using the underside folds. It is these multiple folds that give the stool strength, simplicity, and aesthetic lightness. Tuck stool is happy living indoors or out, comes in a range of colours, and can be customised for commercial projects. Price: $242.

Refined in form and yet supremely comfortable, the Italiandesigned Soren with its curved, ‘hugging’ backrest and European Beech timber frame is designed to provide longterm comfort and strength. Soren is available in a range of standard paint finishes including red, white, black, yellow, green and blue. For a more natural appearance, Soren comes in a range of stained finishes including natural, wenge and walnut. Users can add a soft touch to Soren’s minimalistic lines, opting for upholstery on the seat and backrest – options include fabric, vinyl, suede or leather. Priced from: $458.

Ke-Zu: (02) 9699 1788 or

DesignByThem: (02) 8005 4805 or

Chairbiz: 1300 888 434 or


Croissant Dining Chair

Foxy Low Back Dining Chair

DS17’s interior design of Alpha (see our full story elsewhere this issue) uses the Billani Croissant as one of its dining chair options. It’s a solid beech chair with upholstered seat cushion and its curvaceous lines work perfectly in the new Greek restaurant. You’ll also find Croissant barstools and side chairs in Alpha.

Faux bamboo furniture constructed from lightweight aluminium for permanent external use. Chair frames can be powder coated in your choice of any Dulux Powder Coat colour and Quick Dry foam cushions covered with Sunbrella Taupe fabric included.

Cafe Culture: (02) 9699 8577 or

Robert Plumb: (02) 9316 9066 or

Retro Range

Twin Towns Tub Chairs

Evo Style is one of the newest names in Australian furniture design, headed up by Luke Ommundson, a specialist woodturner, and his architect-trained wife Louise. The new Retro range has obvious design links to a bygone era, when timber, vinyl and curves were all the rage. Having now replaced vinyl with leather, the design is still classic, and has been purposefully designed with both budget and quality in mind to suit the commercial and hospitality industries. Available in American Ash (natural & stained), American Oak, American Cherry and American Walnut, the Retro stool and bench can be customisable with a choice of upholstery, making it suitable for any interior. Price: $275 (stool); $715 (bench).

The mighty Twin Towns Club (see our full story last issue) has a serene space that’s quaintly and anachronistically called the Ladies Lounge. Nothing old-school about the design, though. The feeling is warm and soft — no, we won’t say ‘womblike’ — thanks, in no small part, to the custom-made tub chairs from Hospitality Imports. Custom design is Hospitality Imports strong suit — they’ll design, manufacture and install the furniture to your spec.

Evo Style: (02) 9627 6369 or

Hospitality Imports: (02) 9669 6775 or


Cloud Foosball Table

Pattern Chair

The Cloud Foosball Table from Tait brings all the excitement of the classic table football format to the great outdoors. This foosball table is designed to be robust, all weather and vandalproof. Cloud is designed for hospitality situations such as beer gardens, or playgrounds and shared community spaces, as well as corporate outdoor areas.

The first one-piece moulded and shaped outdoor chair made entirely of completely recyclable steel was made thanks to an innovative high-tech method, making important evolution for EMU in its approach to metal. This development started with sheet and tubular metal, followed by rods.

Tait: (03) 9419 7484 or

Prototype: 1300 799 376 or

Club Central Menai

Missy Chair

We ran a Club Central Menai story last issue in our Clubs Special and incorrectly attributed the furniture supply. Credit should go to Ricmar Commercial Furniture. Ricmar is a specialist in the clubs and hospitality markets thanks to its ability to customise designs in-house, as well as having the capacity to maintain and re-upholster your furniture without lengthy delays. Well worth a visit to Ricmar’s Wetherill Park showroom.

The Missy Chair is simple sweetness in a chair. Perfectly made with an uncomplicated silhouette, this new addition to the Café range is available in an eye-popping range of colours and will be a striking addition to restaurants and cafés this summer. No element has been overlooked in this design: stackable for ease of storage, protective rubber feet to protect the floor, fully UV stabilised for outdoor use and a 12-month commercial warranty. Price: $79+GST.

Ricmar Commercial Furniture: (02) 9604 0059 or

Instyle Seating: 1300 309 889 or

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Coffee ’n’ cake doesn’t get any bigger than Carlton institution, Brunetti. Story: Christopher Holder Brunetti: 380 Lygon Street, Carlton VIC (03) 9347 2801 or



runetti is a shrine of sorts. And if the Lygon Street institution is a coffee, pastry, icecream and panini Mecca, then the espresso station is the high altar. Centrally located, elevated and always alive to the banging of baskets and frothing of milk, it epitomises what Melburnians love and loathe about Brunetti: big, noisy, and high volume. ‘High volume’ is right. Brunetti boss, Yuri Angelé, reckons the coffee station dispenses somewhere between 25,000-30,000 elixirs a week. And as for the patisserie? Clearly, it’s a huge enterprise. And as you enter the store you can’t help but be in awe. More than 300 birthday/wedding/anniversary cakes fill the display fridges. But high volume doesn’t mean ‘mass produced’. That much Yuri is at pains to make clear: “That’s one misconception: that Brunetti produce is mass-produced. Sure,

we operate on a large scale, but it is an artisan product. oped a successful commercial pastry making business, But to convince people, you have to show people, and selling Italian biscuits and the like into the supermarket chains. Giorgio decided his commercial operations that’s what we’ll do.” need a ‘shop front’. PASTRY OLYMPIAN Some years later the Angelés took an enormous gamble Okay. Pause. And then let’s rewind. If you’re not from and expanded the Faraday Street outlet to be a huge Melbourne or you’re unfamiliar with the name, you cafe and patisserie that occupied three shop fronts. may need some background. Brunetti has been the big- More uncertain times loomed, though, with the Angest Lygon Street name for more than 15 years now. gelés unable to secure terms of a long-term lease with Back in the ’80s it was just another pokey coffee and the two different landlords of the Faraday Street site. cake shop just off the main drag in Faraday Street. I can recall buying the best rum-babas there as a teenager NEW HOME and playing pool upstairs while at university. In 1991, After a long and well-publicised impasse, the Angelés the Angelé family bought the outlet from the Brunetti either had to sell up, or find a new home. Around that family. Yuri’s father Giorgio, came to Australia in 1956 time, Borders (the giant bookseller) bailed out of Ausas the Italian Olympic team’s pastry chef (don’t know tralia, leaving a huge 1500sqm vacant site on Lygon why they’d need a pastry chef, when a Four ’n’ Twenty Street. Now helmed by brothers Fabio and Yuri Angelé, sausage roll should suffice!). He settled here and devel- Brunetti moved in.

(Main shot) Brunetti boss, Yuri Angelé. (Right): The new site is even larger than the Faraday Street digs and occupies the old Borders retail space. Designed by Fabio and Yuri’s architect brother, Joe Angelé, the café’s circular design and high ceilings add a sense of theatre and grandeur found in many of Rome’s most prominent cafés. Terrazzo and marble mosaics feature throughout the interior. It’s big, noisy and exciting. Saying that, the new restaurant area is designed to offer a quieter refuge.


“That’s one misconception: that Brunetti produce is massproduced. Sure, we operate on a large scale, but it is an artisan product”


Yuri Angelé: It was a hard decision, to be quite honest, because we really didn’t want to move. It was a very expensive move as well, so it was a big risk. But this space allowed us to expand our patisserie offering… and do all the things we wanted to do. We can now produce our own pasta onsite and incorporate a viewing area for the gelato. venue: Why are those things so important? YA: Customers are very well educated. Twenty years ago, there weren’t many cafes and the standard of coffee was nothing like it is today — Melbourne… Australia, is a world leader. So you really have to lift your game all the time. You have to show you’re dedicated to the product; which is why we’re so keen to create these onsite production facilities: to show how serious we are. For example, we’re creating a micro-roasting facility where you’ll be able to see us roasting. venue: This is the back area that’s yet to be opened? YA: There’s a 800sqm back area which allows us to expand our restaurant and move that into an open veran-

dah of sorts. More importantly, it means we can sell our produce and allow people to see us making it — pasta, the coffee roasting.

LESSONS LEARNT venue: What did you learn from the previous premises that you’ve taken here? YA: When you’ve got 1500sqm of open space to play with, you really do have a blank canvas. For instance, the coffee station. In our previous site it was a reasonable effort, and worked well, but here, it’s really at the heart of the store. venue: With such a large floorplan, the logistics of service must be high on the menu. YA: The layout is designed for volume. It’s a volume venue, it has to be in order to justify the whole concept and the investment. In order to do those volumes, the logistics have to be right while still creating the right atmosphere. You need efficiencies, and good traffic flows for customers and staff. If you look at the coffee station, for example, we have milk on tap, so the barista doesn’t even have to bend over to get their milk. The station is perfectly positioned to make a coffee without moving too much. So really we’ve taken the previous model and we’ve looked at each department and we’ve tried to improve upon it — logistically for the staff member and also for the customer, as well as to create that sense of theatre. venue: Brunetti is unlike anything else that I’ve seen in Australia. Did you model it off places you’ve visited in Rome or elsewhere? YA: Not really. It’s something that’s unique — even in Italy you won’t find a patisserie like this. It’s unique because the Australian influence is so strong. With Australian immigration, we’ve had 25 years-plus of influence from Germans, Swiss, and others, providing their creative flair. Italy itself has enormous regional differences — brioche in Sicily, croissants in Rome, biscuits of the north — and this space has taken the best of all of those regions, neighbouring countries, and created a concept that has a very large range of products. venue: Your patisserie offering is phenomenal, but do you often find yourself being judged by the quality of your coffee? YA: It’s a very good point. We’re making 25,000-30,000 coffees a week. But you’ve got to deliver quality as well as quantity, and that’s difficult to do… and requires constant vigilance. At times we do get criticism that we’re doing such huge volumes and it’s ‘commercial’ and it’s not a consistent standard. But when you look at our volumes, and you line that up against how little criticism we get — well, it’s pretty insignificant. But we still listen and still try to improve. venue: How important is the whole Lygon Street identity to Brunetti? YA: We think Carlton is very special and it’s one of the very few precincts that can accommodate a place like this. I would be very wary about reproducing this anywhere else, so it’s a special spot for us. It’s a very unique business and a very unique business model. venue: So, uniquely Carlton, then? YA: Yes, uniquely Carlton; I think so. We feel really at home here, love the clientele that comes in and would love to stay here another hundred years.

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DECIPHERED Code Black Coffee 15-17 Weston St, Brunswick VIC Photo: Michael Kai

Set in an inner-city double-fronted warehouse shell, Code Black is the new roastery and headquarters of the Melbourne-based Cafenatics operations. With the roasting process on full display and a strong use of raw black steel, stained OSB board and concrete, the space communicates a language of rawness and simplicity as a stripped back, masculine, almost reverential ode to the coffee bean. Seeking to accommodate both a new roasting operation and the HQ for the current administration of the existing business, alongside a public coffee outlet, Code Black Coffee comprises two mirror image warehouse shells. One side houses the primary coffee roaster and coffee outlet, the other the administration, operations and dispatch. As a customer entering the coffee outlet your eye is lead past the servery into the depths of the building, where the roaster holds court. Using dark, warm tones to mute the volume, lighting and form create drama within the building's shell. Yellow highlights punctuate the ceiling of the kitchen and office areas, while fabric seating is a Josef Frank coffee bean illustration imported from Sweden. Materials throughout reflect the Code Black branding as the hue of the black colour base, and a strong use of raw black steel maintains a masculine, raw and simple feel.

CONTACTS Zwei Interiors Architecture: (03) 9696 3104 or Volker Haug (Lighting Design): (03) 9387 1803 or

DUMPLING THEATRE Man Tong Kitchen: Crown Melbourne, Southbank VIC

Ah, dumplings. They can create a kind of monomania in some. And nothing acts as a Siren call to dumpling fiends than the sight of a chef ‘designing’ dumplings before their very eyes. Crown Melbourne’s Man Tong Kitchen provides just such a spectacle. As seductive as Amsterdam ladies of the night showing their wares, Man Tong provocatively prepares dim sum in a specially designed front kitchen, with only a window between the dumplings and the concourse. Sweet agony. Appropriately, they call it the Dumpling Theatre. Bravo. Man Tong is a sister restaurant to the Golden Age Group’s Hu Tong in The Cullen Hotel, Prahran, and occupies the old ‘Pub’ site in Crown’s redeveloped West End precinct. Man Tong’s interiors are by B.Y. Architects (with Lisa Chan leading the charge along with Director Brandon Yeoh), and follows a contemporary ‘chocolate box’ ideal of traditional Chinese style, with a very rich combination of materials and vibrant colour. Traditional dark stone, decorative oriental patterns, timber, red and gold touches mix with concrete finishes and modern glass tiles. The front section makes space for casual dining and drinking, which features a toffee-apple red-bricked bar and has a bay of modernday banquettes and traditional Chinese teahouse seating. Overhead, a cluster of (empty!) bird cages provide a feature. The main restaurant space has an unusually high pitched ceiling (5m at its peak) and some structural columns that provided a challenge for B.Y. As is the Chinese restaurant custom, private dining is well catered for, with a number of options. The lighting design was taken on by PointofView: “POV was asked to design feature and architectural lighting to help achieve a sense of warmth and airiness to a variety of spaces. Uplighting of the feature pitched ceiling in the main dining room was also important to show the volume of the space, with the insertion of custom-made oversized ‘lantern’ pendants helping to accentuate this,” said Chan. The central restaurant pendant is a bespoke piece designed especially by the POV team, in a variation of a traditional Chinese lantern. “We integrated the main tones of red and gold to relate to the interior as a whole,” said POV’s Sara McClintock. Man Tong, literally means Full House, and 2013 has been auspicious for the restaurant. Apparently the Peking Duck is epic, and justifiably famous (the duck is roasted on site). But that, of course, would mean forgoing a serving of dumpling to try it.

CONTACTS B.Y. Architects: (03) 9662 1188 or Walton Construction (Builder): (03) 9832 6900 or D’fine Creative (Custom Joinery): (03) 8561 7474 or PointofView (Lighting Design): (03) 9017 4161 or AT Lighting (Lighting Supply): (03) 8669 1388 Orient Express (Furniture): (03) 9421 3288 or


BROOK NO COMPROMISE GB Espresso: 135 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda VIC

Andrea Brook opened GB Espresso in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda in April. The name pays tribute to a long heritage as the Grocery Bar in St Kilda. “I was excited when The Grocery Bar came up for sale as it’s an ideal format for the business I plan to scale across several locations in Melbourne. Our focus is definitely coffee and great-quality, simple food. It’s in no way what you could call a commercial kitchen, so part of the challenge has been to write the menu around those limitations. As a result we have opted for a pared back European Italian-style menu, with limited but best quality ingredients such as filled paninis using beautiful cheeses and smallgoods.” While the menu is pared back, on offer are variations of eggs, house cured salmon, daily salads, house made cakes and sweets, and beautiful quality coffee from the brand spanking new Synesso machine that commands the large marble slab at the front of the shop. Brook feels that the formation of a professional and highly skilled team will enable the growth at other sites she is planning on.

CONTACTS Mr Mitchell: (03) 9533 8700 or Caramel Creative: (03) 9690 8880 or


Brook comes to St Kilda after selling the very successful Wild Organic Café in Elwood Village after five years. “Wild was established with a view to creating a fully organic business producing everything in-house and did this successfully over many years. It became apparent to me after five years that it was time for me to look at a format that would enable a reproducible model.” Prior to Wild, Brook setup Hot Honey in Middle Park with old business partner Emma Binks.

Brook has a vast previous hospitality background including a wholesale food business Fast Food Gourmet specialising in hand made vegetarian products that were sold to large retailers including David Jones, Daimaru, and the Australian Tennis Centre. This business was sold successfully and continues today. Prior to that Brook established Store 6 at The South Melbourne Market which still operates today. Her earlier training stemmed from a stint in England and Europe working in Michelin-starred establishments as a chef. Upon returning to Australia Brook headed up the kitchen with Guy Grossi at the original Caffe Grossi Cafe in South Yarra. She went on to work in numerous establishments in Melbourne before starting her own businesses. Brook worked with branding team Caramel Creative and interior designs Mr Mitchell to make the most of the old Grocery Bar site without breaking the bank. The existing kitchen and bar/coffee station was to remain, but given a cosmetic makeover. The furniture layout also worked well for the style of service, but all fittings and fixtures were stripped out and updated. The Mr Mitchell team employed a palette of warm materials and finishes that evoke a sense of nostalgia and a affection for the era of great Europeanstyled espresso bars, such as Pellegrini’s. The cafe slips effortlessly into the Fitzroy Street scene. Will there be a GB Espresso opening near you? Well, only time will tell if the concept is that successful, but early signs bode well.



Coffee and the cafés that sell it are ubiquitous in the world’s major cities — but how about a jungle of coffee trees on the edge of a central business district? That’s what Hassell brought to the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. The work of young designers at Hassell, the Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar was the centrepiece of this year’s Festival. “Approximately 120 coffee trees transform the ‘Red Stairs’, a popular public amphitheatre on the banks of the river Yarra, into a terraced coffee farm and abstract, modulated jungle,” said Brenton Beggs, Landscape Architect and one of the Hassell designers on the project. Alongside the trees, a collection of shipping containers, timber pallets and packing crates demonstrate the journey that coffee beans take from where they’re grown to the lips of a big city coffee connoisseur.

CONTACTS Hassell: (03) 8102 3000 or

“The inspiration for the Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar comes from a desire to evoke the still somewhat mysterious and exotic geographies associated with the source of coffee. It brings to life the story about coffee, inspiring

coffee drinkers to think about its origins, production and transport,” explained Cara Gabriel, an Interior Designer and another member of the team. It’s possible to stumble across a coffee plantation within the clearing of a jungle. In fact, the most flavoursome coffee is grown within twenty degrees of the equator in the shade of mountains and under the protection of the existing vegetation canopy. The design of the Urban Coffee Farm attempts to play on this element of intrigue and surprise, creating an unexpected landscape in a familiar urban setting. “The Farm also plays with the idea of the takeaway nature of contemporary urban coffee culture, and the temporary nature of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival itself,” said Brenton. Clearly, this was no slick/polished permanent installation, but intentionally something that appeared to be quickly and haphazardly gathered together. The visitor is invited to ‘take away’ knowledge, new experiences and of course, a cup of coffee brewed by some of the city’s best baristas.

X32 Compact


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X32 Compact


Behringer beefs out its very popular X32 range with the X32 Compact, a 40-input digital mixer heavy on features, ideal for small to mid-size venues. The X32 Compact’s local connectivity includes 16 XLR inputs, eight XLR outs, six Aux I/O and expands to its full 40-input, 25-bus capacity when used with Behringer’s optional S16 Digital Stage Box. The mixer also features an Ultranet port for sending 16 channels of audio via Cat 5e cable to the optional P16 Personal Monitoring System. There’s plenty of processing grunt for adding EQ, dynamics and effects.

Hurricanes Winds Up AV


Hurricanes Grill Brighton Le Sands is an expansive venue, which features waterfront views overlooking a nearby beach. The AV system had to be high-performance yet cost-effective. It was also essential the speakers would not be visible while still delivering quality sound and distribution throughout the restaurant. Systems integrator Constant Technology spec’ed a system that consists of six audio zones powered by a range of Crown amplifiers. Six black JBL Control 47LP ceiling speakers cover the entry zone and four ceiling mounted JBL Control 52 speakers cover the main bar zone. Seven JBL Control 47LP ceiling speakers and a pair of JBL Control 40CS/T ceiling subwoofers cover the dining area. Six JBL Control 25AV surface mount speakers, filled out with stainless steal grilles that provide an IP5 weather rating, cover the verandah zone. The system is controlled by a BSS BLU-100 networked signal processor. Jands (Crown, JBL, BSS): (02) 9582 0909 or

Galactic Music: (08) 9204 7577 or

QSC In The Fast Line


QSC Audio Products’ new CXD Series for installed sound applications packs what it calls Flexible Amplifier Summing Technology (FAST), designed to provide better power allocation by actively distributing the total amp power across one, two, three or all four outputs, enabling amp channels to be combined for maximum current or voltage output, with the largest models capable of up to 5000W. Housed in a 2U rackmount configuration, CXD Series amplifiers feature new QSC proprietary Class-D power devices, which enable that multi-channel high performance power. Technical Audio Group: (02) 9519 0900 or

Chilliwow Sound


Chilliwow is an exotic new Mexican bar and cantina recently landed on the Fortitude Valley landscape. The wild interiors were the brainchild of Alexa Nice design, while the audio came via system designer Jason Roesler of AutonomyTEK. Central to the audio design was a range of Acoustic Technologies loudspeakers that met the design criteria: even sound coverage in all areas, separate source and volume control for each zone, visually unobtrusive, and with multiple input connections around the venue. Low-profile MK100 ultrawide dispersion enclosures and MK50 ultra-compact cube speakers were used, while outdoors the venue relied on weatherproof LG03E enclosures tied to a single dual-10-inch LGB01 subwoofer. A pair of MK50 cubes provide clear sound in the loos, but don’t expect background music, a DJ feed or even a Mariachi band, rather it’s ‘Learn to Speak Spanish’ lessons on repeat! Acoustic Technologies: (07) 3376 4122 or


1000W One-Person Lift


The ZLX is the next generation portable active loudspeakers from Electro-Voice. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a whopping 1000W of Class-D power on offer in a package that you can pop onto a pole mount single-handedly. Passive versions are available too. EV has decided to take most of the hard work out of setting up your PA by providing a single-knob DSP control with an LCD and choice of presets. The location of the multiple carry-handles is designed to allow easy transport, and puts you in exactly the right place for that high lift onto a pole mount. ZLX can double as a floor monitor, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s priced well. Bosch Communication Systems: (02) 9683 4572 or





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Sugar Stick


Sugar Stick is a new lighting creation from Melbourne-based rising star, Christopher Boots. Like a swizzle stick in your room, Sugar Stick is a glowing stalactite of quartz crystals and brass — “a delicious drop of amazingness”. A bit of background: Boots began by studying Cinema, Linguistics and Media at La Trobe University but completed his degree in Industrial Design at Swinburne College — where he specialised in Product Design Engineering. Boots then went on to work under the legendary Geoffrey Mance in Melbourne, and created the Mance Design Studio after Geoffrey passed away suddenly in 2007. In late 2011 Boots realised he needed a studio of his own and ‘Christopher Boots’ was launched on the auspicious date of 11/11/2011.

Glass Collection


The Glass Collection of lights takes the familiar forms of latte, cognac and crystal glassware to create distinctive decorative lighting pieces. Designer Keith Melbourne conceived the collection while sitting in a cafe, sketching out design ideas. “I looked at the glass of coffee in front of me and realised what a beautiful form the glass was,” said Melbourne. Each glass form has been digitally modelled, re-scaled, and adjusted for function and aesthetic balance. Featuring a white interior and coloured exterior, the lights project a clean, white light, while the exterior glows in colour with light transmitted through the shade. The Glass Collection of lights is suitable for residential and commercial interiors. Price: from $720. ISM Objects: 1300 888 646 or

Christopher Boots:

Agostino Outdoor


ULA Group and AECOM Sydney worked with Jupiters Hotel & Casino on a new design for the property’s entrance. ULA’s Blair Terrace explains: “The original brief was to create a classic light bulb matrix look on the new canopy ceiling. The Anolis Arcdot was the product of choice due to its versatility, quality of the product and its colour changing capabilities. A crucial feature of the new lighting system was to lower power consumption, increase lifespan, and significantly reduce operating costs and carbon emissions.” The project involved 137 pieces of ArcDots being installed into the ceiling of the entrance which were then programmed and pixel mapped to run matrix video effects in different setups and sequences seven days-a-week from dusk to dawn. ULA Group: 1300 852 476 or


Characterised by a streamlined design; drawing reference from the grand dining room lanterns of the 1920s passenger liners, Agostino radiates a beautiful and warm glow. Designed for outdoor use, Agostino is constructed from a durable calico fibre and resin composite, with a hand-crafted copper expandable rim serving as an attractive and functional finish. Agostino is available in four sizes and exudes a captivating raw ambience. Agostino is designed and expertly crafted in Australia. Light on Landscape: (03) 9509 8000 or

Jupiters’ Grand Entrance

AHA Gala Solution


Australian Hotels Association (SA) Awards 2013 were again handled by Novatech, which was determined to pull something special out of the hat. The result: The backdrop of the Adelaide Entertainment Centre was covered with over 200sqm of physical projection and LED video canvas. Behind the scenes, 3 x d3 Technologies Media Servers which were employed to handle the task of running video and audio playback for the entire event (including five HD Barco projectors). Before a single piece of equipment was loaded for the show, Novatech was able to walk the client through each cue in the comfort of its pre-vis suite — Australia’s only d3 Studio. To complement the immersive video environment, a large lighting rig was designed to include Clay Paky Sharpys, Varilite 3500 Spots, Mac2000 Profile and Wash, and the new Nexus 4x4 LED panels from Chauvet. Finally, Novatech turned to Nils Porrmann of Dandelion & Burdock for a simple, all-in-one content solution. Novatech Creative Event Technology: (08) 8352 0300 or


Are your wireless mics

Lead-Free Vistosi


With a five-century-old glass blowing technique, Vistosi has made its mark on the design industry not just with tradition and experience but also with innovation, in this case producing a new crystal blend which presents ‘aesthetic, technical and ecological advantages’ — leadfree blown glass. The new blend is now used in all of Vistosi’s crystal collections: Giogali, Diadema, Diamente and Damasco.

ready for the Digital Dividend ?

Studio Italia: (03) 9690 4155 or

Vessel Collection


Available in a range of sizes and material options, the Vessel pendant lighting collection is a fresh take on the traditional metal spinning processes. Available in both vertical and horizontal configurations, the Vessel pendants are ideal for a broad range of interior spaces, offering a fresh, quirky focal point and light source. Comes in white, black, red, yellow, antique copper and dipped antique copper, with customised colours available upon request.


Satelight: (03) 9013 0272 or

By the end of 2014, all analogue TV transmitters will be turned off and all digital TV transmitters will have changed frequency. The band between 694 MHz and 820 MHz will be cleared of all users so it can be used for mobile data services. Check your wireless microphone systems now ! If they operate between 694 MHz and 820 MHz you need to start planning to operate between 520 MHz and 694 MHz before the end of 2014.

Make certain your systems are ready!

visit for more information



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New York? Tokyo? Milan? Nup, try Doha. Yes, lavish design goes where the lavish budgets are, and the Middle East is enjoying something of an fuel-fuelled design renaissance.

Completed in September last year, the Astor Grill restaurant is the most recent addition to the St Regis Doha Hotel, Qatar. It was built as a tribute to the Astor family and John Jacob Astor IV, who founded the first St. Regis Hotel in New York City in 1904. Astor Grill is ‘a modern interpretation of a New York steakhouse and grill’, with lashings of French inspiration combining for a menu for everyone. Not only is the food at this restaurant fuelled by a mix of French and American inspiration, but European and Arabian influences are evident in the interior design. The Astor Grill was designed by architects Rockwell Group Europe and inspired by the work of British artist Tony Cragg, who is well known for experimenting with the use of a wide range of materials in his sculptures, such as wood, bronze, plastic, stone, steel and


rubber. Without doubt, the most striking design feature is a five-metre-high curving bronze sculpture in the entrance area. The red and gold of a cosy cutout niche in the centre of the sculpture brings the warmth of a crackling fire to the room, while the bronze masterpiece itself resembles ‘smoke frozen in space’. Combined with informal chairs and animal print cushions, one could almost imagine it to be a kind of sumptuous Bedouin campfire for Arab royalty. The warmth from the phantom fireplace continues throughout the 100-seat restaurant, featuring a colour palette of deep reds and golds, offset by a dusky purple. The ceiling of the main dining area is a timber masterpiece. A mix of gold- and red-hued light filters through a complex maze of timber stalactites, creating dramatic shadows in the space. The subdued lighting, the reddish wooden roof and the rich, dark colours of the walls and furniture provide an intimate atmosphere.. — Alex Lee.


Venue #54  

Issue 54 – Restaurant & Café Special — Mr Wong, Brunetti, Alpha, The Oaks, Noble, Jimmy Grants & more.

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