Simon Kardachi and Adam Liston’s chicken shop Joybird is closing this Sunday, six months after opening. In the coming weeks, a new concept by the group will take over the Hyde Park site, which has been leased for 10 years.
Despite the success of Kardachi brands Nido and Melt a couple of doors down, the Joybird concept – a gussied-up charcoal chook shop with table service, natural wines and cocktails – simply didn’t resonate with the area, says Liston.
“We went in with an ethos that was about doing and serving comfort food that people have an association with – at an ethical level,” says Liston. “And chicken is one of the most unethical food sources in the country. So our birds were coming from a good place, our ingredients were coming from a good place … I guess we thought people would warm to that idea, but at the end of the day it comes back to money.
“I could sit here and say it’s not fair. But at the end of the day we know you can go to Coles and buy a chicken for $7, and whether you’re a millionaire or a poor person sometimes that’s more convenient.
“For us to be able to sell a whole chicken that’s cooked the way it should be cooked, and then cover wages – and that’s another side of the story, you know; restaurants are closing all over the country – we have to sell chicken for around $35 bucks.”
Liston promises the Joybird brand “is not over”, citing stalls at Gluttony and Tasting Australia. The team has also discussed opening a CBD location.
“We still feel the brand is strong. Whether it’s focused on rotisserie chicken or something else, I’m not sure. But at the end of the day the concept is struggling in its location, and the smarter business move is to put something in there that we know will work – and I’m sure the next concept will.”