26/10/2004 - 22:00

Halo lights up on Barrack St Jetty

26/10/2004 - 22:00


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It didn’t take long for businessman John Hooper to breathe new life into fledgling Barrack Street Jetty restaurant formerly known as Moorings Cafe.

Halo lights up on Barrack St Jetty

It didn’t take long for businessman John Hooper to breathe new life into fledgling Barrack Street Jetty restaurant formerly known as Moorings Cafe.

The rejuvenated site, now called Halo, has built up a strong support base in just over a year since it reopened, and has just been named best new restaurant in this year’s Gold Plate Awards.

Although familiar with success the award surprised even Mr Hooper, who thought media darling Room 19 was a shoo-in.

“There was word in the industry that Room 19 were going to get it because they won the reality show [My Restaurant Rules],” he says.

“So I was sceptical about winning it. But then we did, so it was a surprise.”

Halo also beat Banca Café, Vat 2, and Chesters of Heafod Glen to take the best new restaurant award, won by Must Winebar last year.

While the restaurant game is nothing new to Mr Hooper – he trained as a chef in the 1960s – it has been some time since he’s been so intimately involved in a project of this sort.

He has spent the past two decades running a fitness club and a fashion business.

“We spent 11 years in the fashion industry in New Zealand,” Mr Hooper says. “We did everything from design to manufacturing and we had eight retail shops.”

The shops, called Spangles, were sold before Mr Hooper returned to Perth, where he invested in a fitness business called Western Fitness.

That was sold to Fitness First a couple of years ago and, by then in his mid 50s, he figured he’d enjoy his retirement.

It was 15 months into that retirement, and admittedly driving himself and many of those around him to distraction, that Mr Hooper decided to take a shot at a new business venture.

Moorings Cafe had gone into administration but the spot, right on the banks of the Swan River, was idyllic.

“It had embossed cream table cloths and burgundy napkins and nylon net curtains that were like something a grandmother would have. Nothing had been done to it for 10 years, so we shut it for six months and stripped the lot out,” Mr Hooper says.

Mr Hooper, who travels to Melbourne every six weeks to catch up with friends and the latest industry trends, recruited a new kitchen team headed by Scott O’Sullivan, and developed a wine list that just keeps growing.

All up there are 240 wines ranging from $22 to $646, proving there’s something on offer for everyone.

“The reason we have it is because it’s something I like to do,” he says.

“I like playing with wines and I think that too many places in Perth have cut back their wine lists because it’s too difficult.

“We have all the top brands that any suit could want, so we have all the top end plus everything in between.”

The food and service is also striking a chord with consumers and the restaurant is now booked out several times a week.

“We got our name out there with some press and advertising and spent a lot of money on branding, but you have to,” Mr Hooper says.

“Otherwise you sit there and do nothing and hope people will hear about you. You have to be on the ball all the time.

“From November 12 last year right through to March we were flat out.”

Mr Hooper says making the business work so quickly is a matter of setting out to achieve the best results.

“Whenever I do something I put my heart and soul into it,” he says.

“If I do something I want to do it properly, I’m not here to do a second-rate restaurant.”

The team at Halo will officially celebrate the restaurant’s first birthday at its Melbourne Cup luncheon on Tuesday November 2.


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