Hot Takes & Takeaways: How Melbourne’s Hospo Scene Succeeds In Creating Casual Restaurants


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that of Melbourne The food and drink scene is synonymous with diversity, community and, of course, trend. From acclaimed fine dining to world famous coffee, great market culture and even the birthplace of the dim sim, Melburnians have plenty to brag about.

This also includes some of the best casual restaurants in the country. Whether you want a piping hot slice of pizza, a scoop of homemade ice cream or a burger with everything, Melbourne has you covered.

To learn more about the city’s fast-food scene, we recently caught up with three hospitable entrepreneurs (and true legends) for a lunchtime live stream. Keep scrolling to catch highlights of our chat with the the queen of gelato behind Piccolina, Sandra Foti; Small Print Pizza’s pizza pro, Adam Chapman; and the brains (and stomach) behind Easy’s and Jimmy’s Burgers, Jimmy Hurlston.



We’re sorry to tell you, but our Hospitaller Legends didn’t reach the top without working hard first. Sandra Foti shares that she comes from a “really entrepreneurial family” and that her upbringing has shaped her approach to business. “I learned this work ethic – nothing is free. People say ‘how did you do? “. It’s like: because I work my back every day,” she says.

The secret? Find something you are passionate about. “I go to work every day and I love it. It doesn’t feel like work, it’s like a hobby,” she shares.



After the hard work, the trio refuse to fear failure. Quick and bold decisions are the name of the game – that’s the approach Foti took when she first called for a gelateria to open.

“You’re in the deep end, you move fast, you go all out. Nobody wants to fail, so you…don’t fail,” Foti shares.

This mantra has surely helped her and our other guests persevere through Melbourne’s seemingly endless lockdowns throughout 2020-21. But the challenges are not over. “It’s tough right now with the cost of goods going up so much. So I’m doing everything I can to keep us afloat: pump out a little more marketing, make some changes in the kitchen,” Chapman tells us.



Another common thread between our three guests is that their backgrounds are very different from where they found themselves in the field of hospitality. To start, Chapman studied property and real estate in college, while Hurlston went from law to writing a book about burgers.

But their past careers weren’t a waste of time. Hurlston deploys his negotiating skills daily. And Foti, who studied graphic design, tells us her background “unconsciously drives everything” she does. Take stock of Piccolina’s impeccable branding and you’ll see that this is true.



What makes Melbourne’s hospital scene thrive? Community spirit may have something to do with it. Hurlston has earned a reputation as a burger connoisseur with the @JimmysBurgers Instagram account, shouting out the best burgers, sambos and great food in the country. The golden rule of his story is the age-old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it”.

Chapman also refuses to engage in negative conversation about surrounding businesses. Instead, the consensus is that promoting your competitors rather than trying to eliminate them means building a stronger industry for everyone involved.

“I would much rather promote the industry that I’m in because the more people who love it and think about it, the more customers you get out of it. It was about creating a bigger industry and a space biggest one I’ve worked in,” Hurlston said.


YesYou can watch the full episode of Hot Takes & Takeaways on our Facebook page. If you want to learn more about what restaurants are doing to innovate right now, check out Uber Eats’ business hub.


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