If you’d arrived in Melbourne in January, you’d have been forgiven for thinking the hospitality scene was in the grip of a Seinfeld-related mania. Australian digital media had barely caught a breath after working themselves into a lather over George’s Bar when they were doing it again as Larry David’s put a sign up in late January.
As with George’s, there’s no actual seminal US comedian behind this cafe. It’s just a couple of locals with solid hospitality backgrounds opening their first business – that happens to be named after the Seinfeld co-creator and Curb Your Enthusiasm creator and star.
“I think people took it way too seriously,” says co-owner Callum Linsell, smiling. “We have our name because we like Larry David. Emma [Davies, co-owner] used to manage Huxtaburger on Smith Street, and going back to Huxtable, they had a name inspired by a TV show, so there’s some inspiration there, but it’s not really referenced in the dining. We didn’t send out a media release or anything, we just put up the sign and took a few photos for Facebook. At the time we were just trying to get our food right and our coffee right.”
The man himself looms over the single room from a mural by local artist, Damian Cazaly. A battered Velvet Underground LP spins on a turntable by the door. The coffee is roasted locally by Atomica and the interesting 5 & Dime bagel menu is perfect for locals headed for a tram or train. Fillings include eggs Benedict, turkey, mushroom and a fantastic cayenne pepper-spiced haloumi with avocado salsa and sour cream. There are some inventive juices on offer, too, influenced by Linsell and Davies’ former employer, Transformer.
For a while, it felt as if a new cafe opened in Thornbury every week, but Larry David’s, which sits at the bottom of a new apartment development on St George’s Road, has found a site without a noteworthy cafe for a kilometre in any direction.
“There’s nothing that great within a short walk, we definitely noticed that,” says Linsell. “Everyone who comes in has had to walk that extra distance to High Street in the past, so we’re really looking to serve the local community.
Going back to the name, he shrugs and says, “I really feel like all publicity is good publicity in the end. Hopefully it made us a bit more interesting. You have a name that might draw people in, but the food and the coffee is what has to keep them coming back.” And, perhaps, the napkins.
461 St Georges Road, Thornbury