Restaurants

Who Should Take Over Stanley Street?

By Jacqui Thompson - 21 Mar 2014

In a massive crowdfunding exercise, IconPark has called on the Sydney public to choose their four favourite restaurateurs to take over 78 Stanley Street in East Sydney.

The final winner is up to you Sydney foodie folk, so read on and get behind the team whom you would like to see hit the famous Stanley Street eating district. We interviewed each of the four talented finalists to find out just what will make their dining experience worth your vote.

Meet the Stanley St Merchants headed up by talented chef Matt Stone and his sustainable, artisanal approach to food and wine; Sedgwick Ave offering an NYC food and art bent, which will be decked out by Mr Brainwash's custom works; Ruby's BBQ with an authentic all-American BBQ brought to you by ex-Porteño chef Eli; and Min Joo Social bringing a touch of Seoul to Stanley Street with Korean BBQ Hibachi grills, fine beef by chef David Wright and karaoke on the decks.

Just head to the IconPark website, make a virtual purchase of an experience, and if your restaurant wins it becomes a reality Sydney!

Stanley St Merchants

TUL: In your own words sell us your concept for 78 Stanley Street?
Stanley St Merchants: Through friendship we have brought together one of the freshest teams in recent times. Rock'n'Roll forager and international chef Matt Stone teams up with coffee bean aficionado Sal Malatesta, drink­smith Bobby Carey and the master distiller Jez Spencer.

A trip to Stanley St Merchants is going to be your best, all-round dining and drinking experience in 2014, we bet our hats on it. Whether coming for breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails or a snack, let Matt and the team create you something special.


TUL: The East Sydney area has a colourful past and Stanley Street itself is constantly abuzz, what excites you about setting up shop here?
Stanley St Merchants: We're really interested in the rich, vibrant history of the area. Moving forward we want to incorporate that into our venue, and down the line be a part of the multilayered, diverse tapestry that is East Sydney. Given our inclusion of an Amaro bar, intent to showcase local produce and a mess hall-style drinking den upstairs, the locality of the venue is a key point of reference for us.

TUL: Can you describe just how your concept will bring something unique to the Sydney dining scene?
Stanley St Merchants: We bring together a team of people who have developed their own careers in specific and very different areas. The skill and knowledge base between us is quite diverse: Matt Stone with his focus on food and sustainability; Sal Malatesta is somewhat of a renaissance man and a reputable coffee baron; Jeremy has been a pioneer of Australian spirit making with The West Winds Gin and has an incredible knowledge of the industry; and Bobby, who has cut his teeth slinging cocktails all around the globe.

TUL: Can you pick one menu item that will blow patrons away?
Stanley St Merchants: I think it's limiting to answer that with one dish. Stanley St Merchants is an ongoing, ever-evolving venue where the menu will change regularly depending on seasonality and what we can find that's best. But to give you an idea, perhaps you'd like to melt your own marshmallows with a hot, charred stick and smash it together with some dried raspberries and flowers, or sip on an Australian succulent infused gin martini. We're not giving everything away just yet!

TUL: What will be the standout interior design attraction?
Stanley St Merchants: It's hard to decide between a selection of awe­inspiring pieces we are planning. For me personally though, some of them include, the bar stools with all our supporters names on them, the living wall of herbs and vegetables downstairs, the open-plan mushroom growing attic, Uncle Sal's Amaro bar out back or the hanging bathtub full of gin in the East Sydney Distilling Co.

TUL: Why do we need you on Stanley Street?
Stanley St Merchants: We are needed on Stanley St for an all-day dining and drinking experience. You can swing through our doors at 7am, 12pm, 6pm and 1am and have an amazing food and beverage offering. We are serving up the complete package no matter what time of the day you want. If you live or work in East Sydney, you have no need to leave the area anymore!

TUL: Who would be sitting at your ideal dinner table?
Stanley St Merchants: The ideal dinner table is filled with guests who are enjoying the experience and what we set out to create for them. That said, we're especially looking forward to taking care of everyone who has supported us with our concept, and gotten us across the line to win the competition.

Sedgwick Ave

TUL:  In your own words sell us your concept for 78 Stanley Street?
Sedgwick Ave: We get our name from the place where, historians agree, Hip Hop was born in New York City way back in the 70s. So with a name holding such pedigree, we are going to be bringing the best of New York City and Hip Hop! It will be just like dragging your furniture out onto the streets on a hot New York summers night—including the colour, noise, excitement and sense of community that comes with that.

TUL: What excites you about setting up shop here?
Sedgwick Ave: Like Sedgwick Ave itself, it is an area that has had an interesting past and has played a big part in the city's history. We plan to be a part of the future of Stanley Street. To bring a concept and offering that is hard to come by in Sydney itself. The area is filled with creative types, connoisseurs and cool cats and we hope to not only satisfy their high expectations, but also to offer something greater than the norm.

TUL: Can you describe just how your concept will bring something unique to the Sydney dining scene?
Sedgwick Ave: Traditionally inspired, but specially twisted, NYC iconic food in an inviting environment full of beautifully whack decorations, all wrapped up and presented with funky beats!

TUL: Can you pick one menu item that will blow patrons away?
Sedgwick Ave: If we had to pick just one, we would say our Brooklyn's Finest double-cooked, de­boned chicken wings! Served with a light blue cheese sauce and smokey grilled watermelon salad. It is sure to satisfy!

TUL: What will be the standout interior design attraction?
Sedgwick Ave: Colour, street art and interesting things nestled between and intertwining with the existing urban interior. You may not be able to see it all on the first visit, so you will want to keep coming back to find all the gems!

Just quietly, we are working on an art installation to cover a wall made out of old-skool stereo equipment, a massive Hip Hop family tree (both informative and intriguing), or it could be the artworks that Mr Brainwash has promised to contribute to the space. Check out this video of him walking through 78 Stanley Street with some of the Sedgwick Ave crew!


TUL: Why do we need you on Stanley Street?
Sedgwick Ave: Did you see our submission video?!? We have brightened up Stanley Street once, and we can't wait to do it again! Just in case you didn't catch it, here it is.

TUL: Who would be sitting at your ideal dinner table?
Sedgwick Ave: We have already had Mr Brainwash and Dave Chappelle come through, but we would love to hang out next with Batman, Biggie, Betty Boop and... Picasso! Ha, bet you thought we would say Banksy!

Min Joo Social

TUL: In your own words sell us your concept for 78 Stanley Street?
Min Joo Social: Min Joo Social is taking Korean BBQ to the next level. We are mashing up crazy fun K­pop karaoke with high-quality sustainable produce (think Feather and Bone providores) and shaken together with our cocktail cannery (my favourite at the moment is K­Fizz—apple liqueur, bison grass­infused vodka and St. Germain elderflower liqueur muddled with mint and served over ice with Korean favourite Chilsung Cider. Refreshingly flavoursome!).

TUL: What excites you about setting up shop here??
Min Joo Social: Stanley Street is still a relative unsung hero in the area. It maintains an understated, untapped energy just waiting to be released. Like a conservative Korean businessman yearning to bust out some big K­pop karaoke at the end of a long, tough day.

You don't go to Stanley Street just to be seen as you would some of the surrounding streets and strips in the area. You go for quality and fun. With sites like Cafe Paci and Red Lantern on Riley around the corner, you're in great company. We can't wait to join that crew and help pop­the­top off the energy bubbling away under the surface!


TUL: Can you describe just how your concept will bring something unique to the Sydney dining scene?
Min Joo Social: Min Joo Social is named after little Min Joo, Dave the chef's eldest son. He embodies all that we stand for, all the good times and everything that is wholesome. No care for what others think, a pure focus on quality food and all he wants to do is chase bright lights and big fun. That's Min Joo Social in a nutshell.

TUL: Can you pick one menu item that will blow patrons away?
Min Joo Social: No. It's like choosing a favourite child. I wouldn't be sure whether to choose the deliciously tender and sustainable produce that I can cook at my own private BBQ with friends; the house­made kimchi mayonnaise; the ginseng chicken, corn and potato Broth; the lychee, pineapple, young coconut and meringue salad with baby coriander and yuzu granita. Or one of the amazing drinks from our cocktail cannery. Wait. Yes I can. We have an "I Love Everything" item where you can try a heap of different items. That's what I would choose. Everything!

TUL: What will be the standout interior design attraction?
Min Joo Social: Canned Korean drinks come in many flavours and guises, from simple orange and coconut, to rice punch and carbonated strawberry milk (yum! Right?!). Our cocktail cannery on level 1 will pay homage to this, with a bright coloured wall of as many of these crazy canned concoctions as possible. And yes, we would love donations so start collecting!

TUL: Why do we need you on Stanley Street?
Min Joo Social: For the fun. For the food. For the krazy karaoke good times.

TUL: Who would be sitting at your ideal dinner table?
Min Joo Social: Min Joo Social is all about interacting, having fun, being relaxed and comfortable so we would stick to our friends and family and let the good times, and laughs, flow freely (except Dave, head chef at Min Joo Social, I'd prefer him to be in the kitchen...) We were going to include people like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, David Chang, Uma Thurman, Bryce Courtney and Kelly Slater but decided they can be wait staff.

Ruby's BBQ

TUL: Sell us your concept for 78 Stanley Street?
Ruby's BBQ: 'Bring'n the South Down Under'—the concept itself is a labour of love and life for Eli Challenger and his wife Ruby. Eli grew up in North America smoking meat and running the BBQ from a young age, Ruby grew up on the Eastern Beaches of Sydney with creative and free-spirited parents. When they met and married three years ago, the concept of a BBQ-style restaurant has been all they talk about.

The concept for 78 Stanley Street will be an all-day eatery; with the design feeling like the best backyard BBQ you've ever been to. Picture swing sets, grass, homemade lemonade stands, trees and activities that are just plain fun—ping pong, giant jenga and connect four, and don't get us started on the world paper, scissors, rock championship.

The food is hero, with a range of slow-smoked meats, great side dishes and drinks that complement the world's best BBQ. Food is bought by the gram so you can pick and choose from the meats and side dishes; drinks range from local craft beers, to cocktails and cocktail jugs, and a great wine selection. It's a venue that caters from takeaway meals, to romantic dinners for two, up to large-scale events for friends and corporates alike. It's Australia meats America, in the most fun way possible . . . just like Eli and Ruby.


TUL: What excites you about setting up shop here?
Ruby's BBQ: The vast array of different people in the area. Hipsters to corporates and everything in between, it's central Sydney and the buzz is what excites us in thinking of showcasing Ruby's BBQ to all these people.

TUL: Can you describe just how your concept will bring something unique to the Sydney dining scene?
Ruby's BBQ: Ruby's BBQ is an unseen concept in Sydney, as it is something built on the life of Eli & Ruby. It would be like a backyard in the middle of Sydney. We feel our smoking techniques are unlike anyone currently operating, we guarantee you won't be disappointed.

TUL: Can you pick one menu item that will blow patrons away??
Ruby's BBQ: Our smoked brisket. It.is.amazing . . . 16 hours slow-smoked, it will melt in your mouth.

TUL: What will be the standout interior design attraction??
Ruby's BBQ: The tree house.

TUL: Why do we need you on Stanley Street?
Ruby's BBQ: Whether you live locally, work there, or travel from afar, we guarantee as you step in the front door you'll forget the outside world, and enjoy some incredible smoked meats . . . or the vegetarian gumbo and BBQ veggies.

TUL: Who would be sitting at your ideal dinner table?
Ruby's BBQ: Greg Llewellyn (Hartsyard), Catherine Martin (production designer), Hank Williams III (Singer) and our family and best friends . . . they know who they are. Thanks for all the support and love in this journey, it's been amazing and we can't wait to see what happens next.
 

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