How it all happened

How it all happened

By
Mo Wyse, Shannon Martinez
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781743792070
Photographer
Bonnie Savage

Mo & shannon meet, august 2012

I approached Shannon to be a part of the People’s Market: an outdoor events space in a vacant parking lot, which was built out of shipping containers and involved food, music, art, market stalls and a bar. I wanted a vegan food offering, so I approached a friend with a vegan café who pointed me in Shannon’s direction. Shannon was head chef at The Gasometer Hotel at the time and had made an institution of her vegan options. Shannon’s a calculated risk-taker, so she said ‘yes’, left The Gas and we joined forces. She opened South Soul Food and it became the most popular food container at The People’s Market.

Are we crazy enough to open a restaurant? February 2013

At the People’s Market we were always the first to arrive, the first to set up and make sure everything was right and proper for the day of trade, and always the last to leave, meticulously locking up and ensuring that the next day was set and ready. There was a mutual recognition that our work ethics were on par. An idea was conceived: we should do a restaurant! From this point forward we met for weekly planning dinners, and became unstoppable.

Finding 175 brunswick street, november 2013

Shannon found the location by trolling real estate agencies and endless searching. She made an appointment with the leasing agent and called me while I was at my desk producing TV. I made up a fictitious doctor’s appointment and off I went. Amazingly enough, it was the site of one of Shannon’s first jobs, previously a Spanish restaurant called De Los Santos. This was the very place where Shannon had been told she was just a glorified kitchen hand by fellow kitchen staff. We had to take the space. We signed the lease and embraced the thrill of the unknown, armed only with ambition and our life savings.

Construction, january to march 2014

The entire place needed an overhaul. It had been left in the very same condition as when it had been operating, since approximately the late ’90s, and nothing had been cleaned, updated, repaired or looked after. It was dusty, dirty, and ridden with little unwanted friends. Everything in the kitchen, cellar, bathrooms and bar was gutted and replaced. We had a small army of friends, family and future staff volunteering their time to make this all happen before our opening in March 2014. Ambitious, but totally worth it: we did it all ourselves.

Smith & daughters opens, march 2014

We opened the doors to media on 14 March for a First Look Feast, with friends, family and Melbourne journalists and photographers eating and drinking familystyle. Everyone rolled out with doughnuts wrapped in napkins in their purses. There was a booked-out grand opening a week later on 21 March 2014. Since then, that dining room has been full night in and out, winter, blazing summer, holidays and ‘slow’ seasons. We very quickly outgrew our restaurant space and subsequently opened Smith & Deli on 16 June 2015. Smith & Daughters has been featured in every major Australian newspaper as well as on many acclaimed blogs and in print magazines. In 2014 we won the Time Out People’s Choice Award, against some very big and well-established restaurants. And after this book, the possibilities are endless.

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