09/12/2010 - 00:00

Dining down by the riverside

09/12/2010 - 00:00

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Brent Pollard has started from the ground up to re-establish a Perth riverside dining icon. Emily Morgan reports.

Dining down by the riverside

BRENT Pollard couldn’t resist the many attractions of Mosman Park’s renowned riverfront restaurant, now known as Mosmans; it was the colourful history of the place and its prime location that led him to buy the business in 2008.

The panoramic views of the Swan River are framed by Mosmans’ unobtrusive and relaxed styling – a far cry from what was Meads, the opulent fine dining restaurant with links back to some of the players from the WA Inc era.

“I can think of worse places to go on a daily basis. It’s an incredible site. That is the main reason I bought it, it’s a very special place,” Mr Pollard says.

While the history of the boatshed-turned restaurant and some of the characters who dined there attracted Mr Pollard to the establishment, he was determined to make a break with the past.

A large part of reinventing the restaurant has been changing its name and contemporising its interior; but the strategy behind getting people through the door has changed too.

Mosmans steered away from the ‘fine dining’ tag that came with its culinary offering and premium location, lowering prices and refining the menu. The resulting formula for success is simple – quality produce at a reasonable price, delivered well.

“We are positioning the place to be able to deliver things well and consistently, by aiming it at a quality dining offering that is affordable,” Mr Pollard says.

“There is a tendency that, if you aim too high and you charge too much, you miss the core market you really want to attract. Most things in the modern world have to be at a sensible price to get sufficient customers.

“We are a sizable restaurant, we want to make sure we have sufficient patronage to make it all work.

“Clearly our customers are telling us that what we are offering meets the criteria, because we are doing very well in terms of the customers.”

Mosmans head chef Brad Hatfield, who has led the kitchen since July and been instrumental to the changes, agrees and points to the patronage as a sign the formula is working.

“People are really embracing us. We are building our own client base and it starts to show,” Mr Hatfield says.

To Mr Hatfield, bookings for 70 people on a Tuesday and a fully booked restaurant on a Wednesday evening are clear signs things are going well.

“It is an indication we are doing something right, we have got the product right, we have the pricing structure right, we have the delivery right ... and when you get those three working well together people will come back,” he says.

Mr Pollard says watching the restaurant’s following develop has been rewarding.

“These things are strange. When you open up something new, you have a sticky beak period, where every man and his dog seems to come and have a look at you. For the first few weeks you tend to get very busy very quickly,” he says.

“Then it tapers off and you are back into the normal business game of building your business slowly.

“I have noticed a steady increase. We are only 13 months old, but we have certainly moved a long way in a year.”

Bringing Mr Hatfield into the kitchen is symbolic of that progression. Mr Pollard says that, as the business grows, he is slowly building up the Mosmans team to foster further growth.

“You don’t know when you set up any new business what your income will be, your likely turnover, you can best guess, but you don’t know,” he says.

“You set off trying to keep your costs pared back as far as you can and hope you get the income that allows you to improve the number and quality of people that are here.

“We were straining because we needed a new level of expertise to manage the volume of business, and Brad has managed to fit in that gap perfectly.”

It is clear there is a mutual respect between the business owner and the head chef.

“For a chef to come into an environment as well run as this gives me an opportunity to do some interesting stuff, use great product and have a venue to back me up. For a chef that is important,” Mr Hatfield says.

 

 

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