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Gusto Bites

Things have been a bit stop-start for some in the restaurant business of late. Some have even shelved plans to open new businesses.

CONTRARY to earlier reports, Neal Jackson won’t be opening a new venture in the CBD. He was considering a proposal to open a restaurant in the Murcia and Associates building located on Barrack Street.

“I pulled out of the venture,” Neal says. “I’ll look into something like it in the future but I didn’t feel the time was right for that type of investment.”

Neal says that he is uncertain how the restaurant would fare after dark.

The site, therefore, is still available. It is the ground floor of the building purchased by MPH Resources Pty Ltd and houses legal firm Murcia and Associates. MPH Resources director Evan Hillard says the 250 square metre site is ideal for a restaurant. And there are no restrictions.

“It’s completely up in the air. We don’t have a fixed offer made to anyone about the terms or licence,” he says. Evan says he is in discussions with two experienced operators but would welcome further interest.

“If anyone else who wants to join the party we’d be delighted to chat to them. It’s vacant at the moment and we’d like to get it fully tenanted,” he says.

And what plans for Neal Jackson? Well, his restaurant, Jackson’s Restaurant, is travelling well.

He has secured the services of the young and talented Jason Meakin. Jason has taken home several industry awards over the last couple of years, including the Australian Culinary Federation’s Apprentice of the Year.

Jason and several other exceptional young talents were recognised at the recent Hospitality Youth Skills Showcase. Organised by Hospitality Group Training, this event showcased the best of WA’s young industry talent.

All up, 100 apprentice and trainee chefs, waiters, and entertainers put on an evening of fine food, wine, and excitement. The executive chef for the evening was Patrick Carlin, who was joined by sous chef for the evening, Shane Carr.

While the boys kept the kitchen staff busy (and busy indeed with cameras beaming the images from the kitchen onto the big screens in the dining area) the wait staff was kept on their toes by maître d Brendon Sharp and food and beverage supervisor Daniel Steel.

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Gusto regulars would know that Umberto Tinelli is set to open his popular Il Principe Gran Caffe for breakfast. We can now inform those early-bird West Perth workers that the restaurant is now open from 7am onwards and serves the best of breakfast, including organic muesli with fruit, pancakes and syrup, bacon and eggs, and foccacia all for $8.50. And while Mr Tinelli (as he’s referred to by just about everybody) has opened for breakfast, he also may be looking to open a new venture. Gusto will keep you posted on just when, where, and what Mr Tinelli’s next creation will be.

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Bien Food Wine Coffee will open its doors on Monday June 9. Black Tom’s sous chef Andrew Justice will head up the kitchen to serve a style of food owner Bien Nguyen describes as “European fused with South-East Asian flavours”.

And what of the martini bar planned for upstairs? It still is on the drawing boards but Bien wants to ease his way into trade before talking to the boys and girls at liquor licensing about getting a tavern licence.

“Ideally we’d like to get a big marquee to control the noise and to provide shelter from the rain in the winter and the heat in the summer,” he says.

The interior changes have come along steadily but Bien says it hasn’t been all smooth sailing.

“We advertised for positions about two months ago and had our whole kitchen team sorted out, but about two weeks ago they all left for other jobs, they couldn’t wait for us to open,” he says.

But Bien isn’t dwelling on it. He and business partner, Tai Pham, have re-recruited some exceptional industry talent who will work in King Street’s newest operation.

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WA brews came up trumps at the recent 2002 Australian International Beer Awards. Representatives from more than 70 breweries worldwide descended on Melbourne for a bit of a beer stoush and, West Aussie breweries Little Creatures and Sail and Anchor brewers came away with winning smiles.

Little Creatures was awarded with Champion International Brewery, Champion Australasian Brewery and Champion Ale for its pale ale brew.

The Sail and Anchor was awarded a gold medal for its craft beer, Harbour Lager.

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