Altos’ changing face

JANUARY 28 can’t come soon enough for Stephen Scaffidi. For the owner of the acclaimed Subiaco restaurant, Altos, January 28 is D-Day – the day Perth gets its first look at his latest concept, the new look Altos Bistro.

It’s a bold move for Mr Scaffidi, who hopes to tap into new dining markets while retaining those most faithful to his food, flair and passion. 

Gone will be nearly all fixtures regular patrons associate with Altos.  The new look is extensive and, when completed, will have taken five weeks to fitout.

“A lot of restaurants don’t change and it’s that old saying, if it ain’t broke then you don’t fix it. The decision to redo Altos was a tough one,” Mr Scaffidi said.

The fine dining stigma has created an aura that Mr Scaffidi would rather do without.

“In the early days we were very savvy but very casual. We served some great food in 1996 and 1997 but it was still laid back and casual. People would come in off the street from the movies or before the theatre,” he said.

“We lost a lot of that when we got a good reputation. The service got better and better and the reputation stigma got bigger.

“It’s a great urban myth that you can’t get a booking for three weeks and it cut off the casual market.

“There is a slight intimidation about Altos and we want to obliterate that.”

Mr Scaffidi considered selling the business last year but has opted to keep its location and reputation to set about creating the new Altos Bistro.

A kitchen fire last year prompted the decision, encouraging Mr Scaffidi not to sell, but rather “shed an old skin”.

“Two to three weeks after opening I re-evaluated how lucky I was that I didn’t

go down,” he said.

“I still believe in Subi. Subi is reinventing itself; it has always been busy but it’s moving up another notch.

“I re-evaluated our location and the reputation and thought I could use that and leverage it and reinvent Altos.”

Work commenced on the restaurant just after Christmas and, when it opens, Mr Scaffidi said it would be almost unrecognisable to Altos diners, but would retain the style and service.

“People will go ‘wow it has really changed a lot’, and we want that, but within minutes they’ll know it’s Altos,” he said.

Here is what you can expect to see from January 28.

  • The restaurant will be visible from the street, the curtains and tinting will be gone.
  • Patrons will be able to see into the restaurant when they enter.
  • The lighting will be brighter, but don’t expect fluoro lights.
  • There will be funky wall lights with hooks on the walls to hang your jacket on.
  • The bar will be top coated with zinc to create that old-style bistro look.
  • The bar will be extended and will have bar stools.
  • Mr Scaffidi is in the process of applying for a partial liquor licence, allowing the service of alcohol without food.
  • The tables have been made out of old railway sleepers and have cast iron bases. There will be no tablecloths.

“The most important thing is retaining regular clientele,” Mr Scaffidi said.

“How will they take it? I think my passion and confidence and belief in Altos means that people trust Altos and people need to trust me again.

“I believe we can make that transition work.

“We’ll assess it after six to nine months and hopefully another group or segment will accept it. I want it to be for more people.”

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