Happy Boy is finally opening later this week (or early next) in a new, much larger space in Fortitude Valley. Good news. Except for the bittersweet revelation that owners Cameron and Jordan Votan are closing the original Spring Hill restaurant, which has been a latter-day Brisbane institution since late 2014.
But it’s not all bad news. The Votan brothers are hanging onto the space. They’ll keep it vacant for around a month while they focus on the new premises on East Street. Then it will reopen as a yet to be named Italian restaurant.
This won’t be about pizza and pasta, though. The Votans want to showcase dishes from regions that don’t receive much attention. “If you go to an Italian restaurant right now, you see mostly the same things,” Cameron says. “What we’re doing is similar to Happy Boy … a short menu focusing on the cuisine of regions that usually don’t really get shown in Australia.”
Capitalising on the success of Happy Boy’s $35 Chef’s Banquet menu – or the “feed me menu”, as Cameron likes to call it – a similar offering will be central to the new eatery. Cameron says the brothers already have Italian chefs on board, so expect authentic, rustic share plates.
Both Happy Boy and the Votans’ other venue, Greenglass, (co-owned with Nick Turner and Michael Larsen) are known for their great value. It won’t be any different for the new restaurant. “We want to be smart about the ingredients we use so that people come in, eat, drink, and [are] done [for] 50 bucks,” Cameron says. “That’s a real rarity in this town, especially for cuisines like Italian.”
Watch the Happy Boy Facebook page for details on Spring Hill's last service. If the Fortitude restaurant opens Friday it will be Thursday night. But if the new venue gets pushed back until Tuesday, expect Happy Boy Spring Hill to pull down its roller door for the last time on Sunday night.