One door closes. Another opens.
Last week, Broadsheet broke the news Cameron and Jordan Votan are closing Italian Food Restaurant because they couldn’t reach terms with the landlord for a new lease on the Spring Hill venue.
While there’s a rough plan to bring the restaurant back in a different format, the Votans are first turning their attention to another new venue: Snack Man.
Snack Man will be a 120-seat venue slotting in next to Happy Boy the Votans’ enormously popular Chinese restaurant. The 20-item food menu at Snack Man will also be Chinese but have a different focus to the wok-tossed and barbequed dishes you typically find at Happy Boy.
“Snack Man is about the small plates that China is famous for,” Cameron says. “And we’re not going to gentrify the food. It’s going to be just like how you get it in China. We’re talking dumplings, buns and [grilled] sticks.
“All the Chinese regions have their own special snacks. We’re cherrypicking our favourites from across the regions, including the diaspora. So you can come in and do dinner, but it also complements the more wok-focused menu in Happy Boy.”
The Votans have already gutted the space – previously short-lived chicken joint Flippin’ the Bird – and are installing a new facade and lots of dark furnishings. The venue is scheduled to open in mid-November with an abbreviated food menu. Then in early-2019, the full menu will come on-stream.
While Snack Man will be a destination in itself, it will also fill a few gaps in the Happy Boy offering, including desserts and pre-dinner drinks.
“People would love to come [to Happy Boy] for a drink beforehand, but we’re too busy to house a lot of people to do that,” Cameron says. “[Snack Man] will be a great place to go and do that.”
Snack Man’s focus on drinks is underlined by the recruitment of Jack Lio, who many readers will recognise from his years behind the bar at The Bowery, as well as various other venues around Brisbane. Lio has previous experience working with the Votans and recently returned from Argentina to spearhead the new venue’s drinks list.
“We want to keep it really simple with both the cocktails and wine,” Cameron says. “Give people a curated sense of what we think is great at the moment … Myself and [Greenglass’s] Brian Carpenter will be tag-teaming on the wine for the first little bit, and then we’ll have someone else take over that position.”
Snack Man will open next to Happy Boy in mid-November.