Julien Moussi has a thing for milk bars. Though it may no longer be realistic to meet overheads selling 10-cent lollies and litres of milk, several of the cafe mogul’s venues, which he operates under his group Only Hospitality, reside in corner stores. Moussi has converted many milk bars to open cafes and stores including Stanley, Vermont General Store and now Willim.
By taking over these store fronts, Moussi harnesses the spirit of the Australian icon for a new generation. “[Milk bars] are slowly leaving us, so you’ve got to reinvigorate those corner sites,” the Only Hospitality founder tells Broadsheet.
That’s just what he’s done at Willim, which is located in a former milk bar on a quiet corner of the south-eastern suburb of McKinnon. The design pays subtle homage to milk bar confectionery through a Twix-inspired fit-out that features caramel-coloured timber swirled with chocolate brown accents and coffee-coloured leather banquettes.
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“We wanted it to feel youthful and approachable,” says Moussi. “It’s the nostalgia of having a milk bar.”
That theme carries across executive chef Franky Pham’s menu, which is designed to encourage all-day dining.
Breakfast revolves around various renditions of topped toasts: sourdough is piled with ingredients like spiced beetroot relish, fried eggs and Cumberland sausage, and seeded bread comes with cured salmon, fennel cream, orange-braised witlof and a poached egg. For something on the sweeter, Twix-ier side, there’s also sticky date pancakes that come doused in coffee caramel before being finished with mascarpone and ginger crumb.
Come lunchtime, the kitchen pumps out dishes like green chilli chicken larb bowls or slow-smoked lamb shoulder with potato rosti and truffled peas.
Eventually, Moussi plans to get a liquor licence to keep the afternoon crowd pumping into the early evening. But for now, there’s coffee from Inglewood roasters (which Moussi co-founded) including bulletproof coffees made with ghee or MCT oil, and one served with a salted caramel “collagen booster”.