What do some of Melbourne’s leading restaurants have in common with our favourite DC comic characters?
No, they’re not fighting off crime with their spatulas or turning potato sacks into capes. Across the city the dining experience is taking on a split personality: they’re cafe staff by day, restauranteurs by night. Couturing peels the mask off two of our favourite double-agents.
On Sydney road Curious Goose shares a kitchen with its night-time counterpart Hava Ganda. Front of house manager Beau Field says that this split personality “allows versatility and the ability to offer a different cuisine, showcase the different needs of hospitality and give different styles of service too”. With an eclectic mix of coffee packaging, leather bound books, tea cups and knick-knacks lining the walls, Beau describes Curious Goose as ‘a quirky little cafe’ and its late night sidekick Hava Ganda as ‘the complete opposite’. The two venues are joined at the hip but work on different elements and aesthetics, mimicking Brunswick’s different modes of operation. Catering for seekers of a good coffee and omelette by day and cheap pizza and jugs of beer by night, these boys know their locals.
Down the road in East Brunswick the extremely popular breakfast, coffee, lunch venue Pope Joan has been bitten by radioactive clergy and now morphs into The Bishop of Ostia when the sun goes down. Bar manager Marek Holba says that he can only see advantages in dual operation. He feels that using one thing for two purposes seems like an obvious choice. Having the freedom to then create two completely different atmospheres is the cherry on top. Pope Joan was put designed with love purely by the owners, whereas the sleek and calculated Bishop of Ostia was designed by architect Matt Rowans.
Different does not necessarily mean segregated. The good parts of each business can still sparkle through its partner. Marek, for example, sometimes is asked by regulars for favourites from the cafe when he’s running the bar. He says this allows for flexibility as “in most restaurants you can only cook what’s on your menu but we know we have some hidden treats we can pull out.”
When asked if this is something we’ll see more of in coming years Marek says, “yeah definitely. A prime example of inspiration for others would be Gill’s Diner. The whole place is used 24 hours, bakery, cafe, diner. 24/7 nonstop, when the bakers are leaving from the morning the chefs are coming in. It makes sense. Why not pay rent once and be open as long as possible?”
These are few of many who are starting to switch on to this economic, flexible way of functioning. Other shapeshifting vigilantes include Hobba in Malvern, The City Wine Bar/ European/ Supper Club in the city, and Tiamo 1 and 2 on Lygon st.
Maybe if Melbourne had been named Batmanville (after John Batman, as planned) this trend may have happened years ago.
Curious Goose / Hava Ganda
307 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Switch over at 4pm
Pope Joan / Bishop of Ostia
77-79 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East
Also switch venues at 4pm
Images by Wanda Chin