A new laneway precinct is coming. It’s secluded, dingy, packed with potential and already a bit controversial.
You’ve probably never noticed The Powerplant Building on the corner of Solomon and Burnett streets. The former car park is owned by the Econ Property Group and will soon be filled with the smells of coffee by day and pizza by night.
Situated mid-west of the CBD, there’s no denying it’s a location ripe for redevelopment. But there’s some debate over how best to move forward. Econ is seeking to rezone the rear laneway to allow outdoor dining, but Polites Group (which owns the neighbouring building) is hesitant. The matter is before council and a verdict is expected soon.
We spoke with two operators midway through their builds about what’s going down – and coming up – at Solomon Street.
Andy Nowell from The Happy Motel and Josh Dolman from Botanic Bar are behind Sunny’s – not a “pizza bar” but “a bar that serves pizza”. It’s an important distinction. Right now their dream is a cold concrete slab, but there are plans for a dance floor, DJ booth and wood-fired pizzas served late into the night.
Studio-Gram (Africola, Osteria Oggi, Abbotts and Kinney) is handling the interior, so expect plenty of character, a little sass, and – if Dolman gets his way – “a huge neon ‘ciao’ sign”.
Dolman and Nowell are joined on the project by their mates and hardworking hospo types, Josh Cook, Ash Wilson and Rob Denisoff.
Also in development on Solomon Street is Fairweather; an espresso bar by breakaway barista Simon Heinrich. He worked behind a number of espresso machines around town before settling in beside Dan Freer at Please Say Please, where regulars knew him simply as “Simmo”. Please Say Please sold in late 2015 and Heinrich moved on in search of the perfect spot for his own little venture.
He was excited to discover Solomon Street, which he says is ideal for his solo debut. Heinrich is focused on keeping things simple. “Just filter and toast,” he jokes. Quite an understatement. He’s workshopping a few tasty brunch/lunch options, too.
At this point, two of the building’s three frontages are leased, with the third still available.