Let us begin by clarifying something, so we are all on the same page here: Pizza is incredible. Period.
How many of us have dreamed of running off to a sun-soaked villa in Tuscany, where the wine never ceases to flow and the pasta bowl is never empty? We know we have, more than once.
Adam Haralampou shares this dream. Born and raised on the Gold Coast with a Greek father, Adam was brought up with food very much a cornerstone of family life. Hospitality and business came naturally as he grew up, and some 10 years ago he took it upon himself to travel the world. Asia and Europe were on the “mandate”, as well as working and living in London, Berlin, and Prague before returning home when, back in 2007, he opened artsy café slash bar, The Cavern in Nobby Beach.
Today, Adam owns Justin Lane Establishment, one of the jewels in Burleigh’s shining gastronomic crown. Having undergone a stellar renovation late last year, the venue now flaunts an impressive roof top bar (prime Sunday Session territory), an easy-going dining room, dedicated takeaway storefront, and buzzing ground-floor bar where cocktails and pizzas flow long into the night.
What could be the inspiration and focus behind all this? Metropolist dropped into Justin Lane and caught up with the man himself to find out.
Firstly, Justin Lane’s cocktails are considered among the Coast’s best. What would be your all-time fave cocktail?
Aperol Spritz, I could drink them all day!
What do you love most about living on the Gold Coast?
For me, it is two things in particular. The weather, which is phenomenal. Coupled with the fact everybody that lives here, loves to live here. You can go for a walk along the beach or a run in the morning and everybody looks up and says, “Hey” and gives you a big smile. For me, that’s something that can’t be beaten.
Where are your fave places to go for coffee, eats, and drinks on the Gold Coast?
For coffee, it would have to be Paddock Bakery. At lunchtime I love going to The Lamb Shop in Broadbeach, then at night time it would be Hellenika. Given my Greek background, I think Hellenika does a fantastic job of really authentic Greek food.
What made you decide to pursue a career in the restaurant business?
I’ve always loved food and drink and have worked around it since an early age. When I travelled, I continued to work in hospitality, so when I returned and decided to settle here, it was a natural progression to put my love for business into an industry that I understood.
Tell us about your career path, how did you get your start and why did you open Justin Lane?
I started my first business in 2007, which was The Cavern [Nobby Beach]. I started that with the minimal amount of money I had saved while travelling. [You saved money while travelling?!] I ran that successfully over a three-year period before selling it on. From that, I learnt exactly what I would and wouldn’t do again in another business. Working for somebody and owning your own business are two completely different things. I took a year off, travelled some more and always knew I wanted to do something in Burleigh. I’ve always loved pizza, so applying that, I launched Justin Lane in 2011.
Italian cuisine is so popular these days. What lengths have you gone to ensure your food is authentic and well received?
For us here at Justin Lane, we believe the base of any good pizza is its foundation. We are one of a few places in Australia that are 100 per cent sourdough. We rest the dough over a 72-hour period; it’s naturally fermented and we don’t use any instant yeasts. The longer it sits and ferments the more the flavour develops, and that is what makes us stand out from other places: it’s the base itself.
What’s your take on the Gold Coast’s dining scene?
From 2007 when I started The Cavern ‘til 2011 when I started Justin Lane, it came a long way. From then  ‘til now, it has come into a whole other league. For me, it’s only getting better. I’m excited to see where it will be in another 5 to 10 years from now. I’ve always said people compare us to Melbourne and Sydney, but one thing we have is amazing weather and they’ll never have control over that. What we do have control over is our food scene, and in time we will have both.
If a friend came to visit the Gold Coast for the first time, how would you spend a weekend showing them the sights?
We would go check out Currumbin Rock Pools, for sure. Burleigh Headland too, where we could go for a surf or a swim, then perhaps have fish and chips on the headland… or even better, a Justin Lane pizza. (laughs.) Of course, I’d have to take them down to Byron Bay as well.
If you could take a holiday anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?
Queenstown or Wanaka, New Zealand. I would go check out the wineries, get stuck into some adventure sports and good food, then I’d get up and do it all over again!
Where would you love to see Justin Lane Establishment in five years?
As each year goes on, I would like to see the business become more and more of an institution. That when you come to Burleigh, it’s just one of the things you have to do: eat a pizza at Justin Lane. So for me, it’s a business I would love to see still here in 20 years from now.
There’s a few things, but I can’t say… I don’t let out secrets until they are concrete. There are some things simmering in the background but until they are on “the boil”, that’s when I’ll say something.
Photo Credit: Brooke Darling for Metropolist