THE twenty-four hour food service market is a hard one to cater to. Apart from fast food chains and small outlets servicing meals with a touch of grease, ordering a meal after 10.30pm is a tough task.

When the Oriel Cafe and Brasserie opened in Subiaco in 1988, it opened the door to restaurant dining 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Twelve years and two ownership changes later and the cafe is still open 24 hours, with no real competitor in the market.

Proprietor Loretta Evangelisti says the cafe is synonymous with 24-hour dining.

“It’s convenient and you know its there. For someone else to come in and do it they would need to do a lot of advertising and keep advertising and consistently stay open,” Ms Evangelisti says.

“Opening 24 hours is not the most profitable thing, but I look at it as advertising.”

Operations and marketing manager Marc Garreffa says being open 24 hours helps market the cafe.

“It’s an invaluable marketing point … the only day we close is Christmas. It does add more overheads but you can’t buy that in advertising,” Mr Garreffa says.

The cafe’s main market during the ‘graveyard’ shift includes students, shift workers and Asian customers looking for late night non-alcoholic beverages.

“We offer something other than fast food and are the only licensed place open 24 hours,” Mr Garreffa said.

“Shift workers come here and have a full continental breakfast for their dinner and they may have a beer with that. They are operating in reverse.”

Since Oriel began offering round the clock-full meals, other restaurants have tried to emulate its success.

A previous director of Oriel, Lynda Quinn, opened her next venture, Mezzonine, as a 24-hour dining restaurant. That offering only lasted several months and the hours reverted to more normal dining hours.

When Northbridge’s Vultures opened 10 years ago it offered 24- hour dining on Friday and Saturday nights, however it ceased this practice about three years ago.

Michael Cutler, who has indicated he is purchasing the restaurant (which he had an interest in many years ago), says it became a hard market to operate in.

“At the time it was operating 24 hours there was a call for it, especially in Northbridge,” Mr Cutler says.

“But it became tough. Staffing it was hard, trying to get people to start at 2am or 3am is difficult.”

Mr Cutler is currently managing the restaurant for the administrators, who were appointed last month. He said that, when he officially takes over the restaurant’s operation in June, he will look at opening earlier in the mornings to catch more of the breakfast trade but will not be opening 24 hours.

“If people are looking for that they are generally tourists and will go to the hotels or the casino,” Mr Cutler says.

“We offer a late night menu after 10pm that is still substantial, but you won’t get your fillet steak or any of that fancy stuff. We get people coming in after the movies and want a snack, or they’ve gone to a bar and they just want a small meal.”

Oriel also attracts the post-show crowd from the Regal Theatre, cinemas and other entertainment facilities.

“We get people coming in after the theatre and movies sometimes at 11pm, but we also get people in on days like ANZAC day when its packed with early morning breakfasts,” Mr Garreffa says.

Oriel Owner History

1988: Oriel was opened by Phil Sexton. He is the man involved with Matilda Bay Brewing and behind #44 King Street and Queens, and is now a partner and technical director in Little Creatures. (He also has a new winery in Victoria called Giant Steps)

1994: Mr Sexton sold Oriel to a consortium including Lynda Quinn and David Napoli, who also set up Quattro’s in Fremantle as the sister to Oriel. Davide Bianchi then purchased it then sold it to Ivan Rutherford and it is now called Bacco).

1999: Two remaining partners of the consortium, Roger Harper and James Halliday sold to current owner Loretta Evangelisti in February.

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