Where to now? To Tokyo, Hanoi or Saigon? That’s the dilemma before Elwood’s distinguished diners, as the boys behind the Windsor trifecta of tasty that is Tokyo Tina, Hanoi Hannah and Saigon Sally hand over the decision-making process to their loyal customers. That’s right, Listers—you can choose the next eatery to be opened by the team behind these three Windsor hot spots.
Co-owner Nic Coulter reveals that gang were itching to set down some roots outside the golden triangle where they all live, and Elwood, packed as it is with young professionals, seems like a golden opportunity.
“Elwood is the next little hub to come up in the dining scene,” he says. “The client base is young professionals around there and they’re potentially looking for something a bit closer to home, rather than venturing to Chapel Street or into the city for a nice dining experience.”
In a novel approach, rather than coming up with another city name/cuisine combo, they’re throwing open the option to the punters to vote for what they want—an Elwood iteration of Tokyo, Hanoi or Saigon. It’s super-easy to get involved, you just sign up via any one of the three venue’s websites and, even better, casting your vote puts you in the draw for a $150 voucher to spend at any outpost.
“We thought we’d put it to our customers and see what they want,” Coulter says. “It was just one of those ideas we came up with in the office. Some of them come off and some of them don’t, but we thought it would create a bit of interest in the new venue as well as giving the public an opportunity to guide the dining scene in Melbourne.”
Coulter won’t be drawn on which is his personal favourite—that’s sort of like choosing your favourite kid—but he’s really intrigued to see which way the crowd goes. “Everyone has their favourites and obviously they are three different styles of eating, with Hanoi very casual then moving up in Tokyo then Saigon. They each offer a different dining experience.”
Depending on which style wins out, you may see something like Tokyo Tina Bayside pop up, or the new venue may have it’s own unique name that won’t necessarily be a cookie cutter replica. “We can still be quite broad within Japanese, for example, and go in a particular direction.”
He hopes the competition will be a bit of fun and allow Elwood locals a loud voice in a decision that directly affects their neighbourhood option. “The restaurant scene has changed a lot in the past few years and it’s always up to the hospo owners which way it goes, so it will be good to have the feedback from the customers as well. Do they want it a bit more fine dining or casual eating?”
Coulter says he’s chuffed with how well the three sisters are going so far. “We couldn’t be happier to be honest. All three venues have achieved expectations and we’re very, very happy.”
For those looking on with envy from over the Yarra, there are no immediate plans to head north. “Whenever we expand, we don’t do it out of hunger or greed, we just go when it feels right and the opportunity comes up. If something came up northside and we felt the opportunity and timing were right, we’d go for it.”
Nominate your pick now, Listers!
Image credit: Nick West for The Urban List