In 2013, chef and restaurateur Jason Jones opened Moroccan-inspired restaurant B’Stilla in South Yarra. In November last year, Jones reinvented it as Enquire Within, a restaurant that “reopens” with a new concept once a year.
North of the river, Jones opened B’Stilla Cantina – a casual Moroccan snack bar – on Brunswick Street in December 2014. It closed in September 2015.
Both had great food and offered something lacking in those areas of Melbourne. So why did they close?
Jones (also co-owner and former head chef at Mamasita) is in Singapore. From the crashes going on in the background, and the instructions he’s yelling at people before we start to talk, it’s clear he’s pretty busy.
He’s preparing to open new branches of his Mexican restaurant Super Loco in Singapore and Jakarta later in the year. Considering this, he has found it hard to make time for B’Stilla.
“I took on B’Stilla thinking I could coordinate living and opening restaurants in Asia with taking care of stuff back in Australia,” he says. “It didn’t really work. B’Stilla is one of those places that’s dependant on the chef being present the whole time. If the chef isn’t in-house, things get a bit – I don’t know how to say it diplomatically – not as awesome as they could be.”
After Jones moved to Singapore, his business partners suggested a rebrand.
In B’Stilla Cantina’s place on Brunswick Street is Little Hop, a 20-seat craft-beer bar serving rare beers from Australia and New Zealand alongside a small menu of beer snacks. Starting today, it will collaborate with Brunswick restaurant Los Hermanos, where chef Bruno Carreto will offer $5-to-$6 tacos until late.
Los Hermanos pops-up at Little Hop for a month, but if it’s received well, “we’re talking a longer-term collaboration,” says Jones. “If we can get people in and the dynamic and food is good, then I can’t see why we wouldn’t keep it going.”
“I always thought we should do tacos at Little Hop,” says Jones. “It’s cheap tacos and beer. Open late. Perfect.”
“B’Stilla isn’t over, it’s just on the backburner,” he adds. “We love the concept and it obviously works really well, but there’s a lot happening in the next couple of years overseas that’s a bit more important. When I move back to Australia we’ll be re-opening and can focus on it again.”
277 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9417 2858
Tue to Thu 5pm–11pm
Fri & Sat 4pm–1am