Getting the keys to two new restaurants, giving them each a full interior design makeover, organising furniture delivery, devising new menus, wine and cocktail lists, and opening the doors to customers would take most hospitality operators a good few months.
On 1 December, the family business behind Hopscotch in Braddon, and Young & Frisky in Gungahlin, took over next-door neighbours Shorty’s and Lola’s at 50 Bunda Street and got to work to reopen them with completely new identities in the same week.
Beer, burger and entertainment spot Shorty’s has been reimagined into a light, bright, plant-filled gastro pub called Dolly’s, catering to a lunch crowd of local public servants and businesspeople throughout the week, before transitioning into a dinner, bar and dance venue at night.
Lola’s is now an ‘upmarket dive bar’ called Bootleg, a moody place to kick back with a cocktail amidst the paraphernalia of a bygone era – vintage movie posters, old film canisters, cameras and more, in a nod to the building’s previous life.
“At Bootleg the food is Southern American style – Nashville hot chicken, pulled pork burgers, cheeseburgers, hot wings, with matching Southern-style cocktails,” says co-owner Nick Parkinson, who is executive chef across all of his family’s hospitality businesses.
Flash Eats, also on the ground floor of the building, is doing the food at Bootleg, while still running its small burger shop in Bible Lane to serve the late-night club crowd from Thursday to Saturday.
At Dolly’s, a kitchen team led by head chef Raj Kunwar is producing the likes of pork belly bao with slaw and pickled cucumber; lamb borek with beetroot relish and feta; and sirloin steak sandwich with tomato relish, creamed leek, watercress, mustard and sourdough.
“Shorty’s was quite a dark space before. We’ve re-dressed it after eight years of solid trade and made it a brighter, more vibrant space as Dolly’s. With Bootleg, we went the other way and made the old Italian-style space darker,” says Nick.
“We had good bones to work with.”
The Parkinsons had planned earlier in the year to convert the top of the three-storey building into a rooftop bar, but COVID-19 put paid to that. After a slight change of plans with the acquisition of the two ground-floor tenancies, Nick says they are once again forging ahead with the rooftop venue and expect it to be open this summer.
“It might be seen as a brave move to open two new venues at this time, as it’s been a tough year for everyone and it might get worse before it gets better, but we always do things for the long term and this building will be with us for many more years,” he says.
“There’s no time like the present, and December is not a time of year that you want to be closed. There are lots of Christmas parties and December trade and we realised that opening now was probably the best time to let people know we’re around.
“We’ve been getting very positive feedback from customers. People are excited to have something fresh and new.”