Brothers Kael and Matt Sahely are well-practiced at opening Melbourne cafes. They’re responsible for some of the city’s most popular breakfast spots of the last half-decade, including Richmond’s Pillar of Salt; Barry in Northcote; the expansive, bright Touchwood on Bridge Road; and BAWA in Hawthorn. Then there was East Melbourne’s intimate Square and Compass.
But Vacation is the smallest venue they’ve ever opened. It’s 70-metres-square and on the ground floor of a historic building on the corner of Flinders and Exhibition Streets. The space formerly housed a Chinese restaurant, which had blocked up the windows and artificially lowered the ceiling.
Now the windows have been revealed and reframed, and the ceiling returned to its original eight-metre height. This loftiness gives the 10-seater cafe an impression of space that punches well above its square meterage.
That’s amplified by the fit-out: a love-letter to mid-century modernism and ’80s pastels. Mint-green teak seats sit with custom-made steel benches and tables, painted in pale pink. It has a Miami-Vice-y, vacation-y vibe.
Vacation roasts its own coffee at Bureaux Collective. The food focuses on high quality ingredients and low costs to appeal to city workers. For breakfast there’s toast and mueslis, and for lunch, hearty toasted sandwiches with meat from Meatsmith. On the weekend a limited food menu is served.