BY his own admission Warren Mead is not a sophisticated dresser, but he sure knows how to create good looking and profitable restaurants.
Since leaving a career in car sales in the early 1908s Mr Mead has accumulated an impressive resume of restaurant successes, with Jessica’s, JoJo’s, Mead’s Fish House (later renamed as Black Tom’s) and Mead’s Mosman Bay among them.
And he has done it without having the sort of charm usually associated with front-of-house.
But he is a tenacious operator with a keen eye for detail, a master at juggling the demands of his four businesses, and a man who is passionate about the market in which he operates.
Mr Mead recently re-acquired The Surf Club Café at North Beach Fremantle, which he sold three years ago to Ivan Rutherford.
It’s currently being extensively renovated and will join his long-time faithful, Mead’s Mosman Bay, and other recent purchases, Linq Restaurant (from former wife Linda) and Savoia Restaurant (now called Black Tom’s) under the Oyster Bar banner.
“Because WA is a tough market we use the oysters as something people recognise,” he said.
“You can offer people a bottle of wine and all of that but they don’t respond to it. We’re offering oysters and we’ll do them, like on Tuesdays, for $7 a dozen.
“All the properties have The Oyster Bar because it’s the same style. It’s oysters, it’s fresh fish, it’s tender steak and good service in a million-dollar venue.”
Mr Mead is currently investing in a fit-out of The Surf Club, which he hopes to open as The Oyster Bar at the Surf Club with the outdoor ‘Beach Bar’ later this month.
“This is a great site for young people. We will have music and simple food and fashion parades and put a bit of life into it. With the Cott Hotel getting redeveloped there is an opportunity to get that market.”
“I haven’t been on this site properly in years, I forgot how good the view was.
“It’s closer to the beach than any other venue in Perth. We will be doing a lot of work here.”
The Oyster Bar is the master brand for his properties and it is an image Mr Mead believes investors will seek out, helping to reverse the recent tough times for his businesses.
He said running and developing restaurants was always hard work and that an owner had to be very focused for the business to thrive.
Mr Mead’s newest challenge is the South Perth Oyster Bar at Linq location. While many operators have failed over the years, the site (adjacent to Coco’s restaurant, which he established with Ian Love) was superb. All it needed was the product, image and service, he said.
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