With over two decades of hospitality experience between them, Genevieve Bruwer and Jamal Nicoll have worked in almost every corner of the industry – but Skinnys, the couple’s first solo venture, is a chance to create an offering that’s entirely unique to them.

“We’ve done a lot of gigs for other people”, Bruwer tells Broadsheet. “Now we have the creativity to do whatever we like – no holding back”.

They spotted the corner site while walking their dogs (two skinny whippets for whom the new venue is named), and decided to take the plunge.

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Skinnys is located in a 1930s building once home to the Brightway Corner milk bar, which relied on run-off trade from the now-closed cinema next door. While it’s had a few other lives since then, Bruwer and Nicoll did a full refurbishment to transform it into a diner – but the colour palette of tomato reds and mustard yellows takes cues from the original features.

“We stripped and sealed the floors ourselves, and [they] came off with this sort of terracotta colour,” says Bruwer. “All these things came naturally to us as we were leaning into the history of the building.”

Those hues are echoed in rust-coloured formica tables, sunny-yellow hanging lights and a matching canary-yellow La Marzocco espresso machine.

The menu has notes of nostalgia – the chicken-salt hash brown is a bestseller, and specials like birthday-cake trifle with strawberry jelly are on regular rotation. Staying true to the diner theme, there are also American-inspired sandwiches like pastrami, egg and cheese rolls; house-made sesame bagels with kimchi cream cheese and smoked trout; and hot Italian beef hoagies à la The Bear.

But the couple’s pride and joy is the small-plates section, which includes Sichuan honey-glazed hot wings, iceberg-wedge salad dressed with anchovy relish, and a simple yet alluring seasonal fruit plate with an optional dollop of clotted cream.

“We’re doing easy eating with a fine-dining twist,” says Brewer. Or, as Nicoll puts it, “simple food, thought out.”

Drinks currently include coffee from Atypical and, in a nod to the venue’s milk-bar roots, Nippy’s cold milk cartons. There are also plans to introduce a selection of local beer and natural wine to drink in or take home.

Skinnys Eatery
107 Gilbert Rd, Preston
(03) 9125 1035

Mon to Fri 8am–4pm
Sat 8am–3pm
Sun 9am–3pm