After a brief hiatus earlier this year, the Wayside Inn in South Melbourne is back with a new team – and a new outlook. On the surface, the new Wayside is very much in the mould of the old Wayside, but behind the scenes there’s change aplenty, and that’s what venue manager Carole Luca is most excited about.
“If I were to choose how you were to reflect us, it would definitely be ‘great things are ahead for this place’,” she says.
The remade Wayside opened early April, with a gastro-pub vibe not dissimilar to its previous iterations. Its new team includes ex-The Alchemist cocktail man Gray Allsbury and former Dixon Group chef Gemma Meslan. But despite the swift changes in personnel, Luca says they’re hoping to let the pub find its feet in its own time.
“Having been open for a couple of weeks and having the staff all gel together, I think the dynamic’s evolving a bit and the pub will get a personality of its own,” she says. “I’m quite happy to let it flow.”
For now, there is a menu featuring meaty staples such as whole slow roasted lamb shoulder, and crumbled pork rib chop, as well as woodfired or chargrilled steaks, including a 250g Wagyu rump.
The bar menu leans into pub-classic territory with a couple of unique elements. The parma comes with a Vietnamese slaw and the grilled sumac calamari is paired with lemon gel and zhoug dressing. On Friday nights there is a house-made pie especially designed to be paired with footy in the front bar.
Right now, drinks are down the line, but there are plans for a craftier tap offering to complement the current lager-heavy taps. A couple of Young Henrys draughts already on pour are an indicator of what’s to come. With Allsbury’s experience at The Alchemist, he is looking forward to expanding the cocktail and spirit offerings into more exciting territories – think vintage-whisky list.
Luca’s background is hospitality, but she spent the last 15 years in Western Australia working for the Port Authority. She's excited to get back into the hospo world. Since returning, Luca says she’s noticed big changes in the industry, especially with the number of large pub groups now in the space. Despite Dixon Group still being her landlord, she doesn't want to follow the current trends in pub openings, which she describes as “clinical". She’s decided her tenure at the Wayside Inn is going to be all about evolution.
“We really are in that germination stage now, where we’ve planted the seed and we’ve opened the doors and we are now just letting the universe guide us to an extent,” she says. “I know that probably doesn't make good business sense.”
While things may seem a little up in the air, the Wayside Inn still has the old-fashioned-corner-pub vibe, with polished wood floors, a few rugs and plenty of spots in the front bar or beer garden to hide with a pint. The dining room still sports white tablecloths (another thing Luca is unsure about). With all this talk of change, Luca says they just want to make it a nice place for locals and visitors alike.
“Everybody seems to have been to the Wayside at one time or another,” she says. “We are just hoping to keep up the tradition.”
446 City Rd, South Melbourne
(03) 9810 0083
Tue to Thur 12pm–10pm
Fri and Sat 12pm–12am