It’s no secret that despite Melbourne’s reputation for being a foodie’s haven, it’s notoriously difficult to not only get a business started but to keep it running in a competitive scene of mid-range eateries with tight profit margins.

In the Flinders Lane space that once housed Mario Santucci’s Mercy Bar & Eatery, a short-lived venue that went into voluntary liquidation only two months after its hyped revamp from its previous incarnation as Virginia Plain, Fonda Mexican is getting set to open its third venue in early 2014.

Fonda owners David Youl and Tim McDonald opened a second venue (along with an accompanying upstairs bar) in Windsor, just over a year after opening the original venue in Richmond.

Speaking to McDonald about operating in a tricky economy, he contends there is no secret recipe to running a successful business.

“These days people eat out more, there doesn’t need to be a special occasion to go to a restaurant, but the catch is people spend less,” he says.

“We just adapt to the way people spend [their money]. With Fonda we want to give people good value with their dining experience without the high price tag. We understand that for some people, eating in might even be more expensive than eating out once you count the time it takes to do your shopping, so we aim to deliver food quickly and at an affordable price. At the same time, Fonda is nice enough to go to on a casual date night.”

Fonda’s new Flinders Lane venue is not due to open until March 2014 after a refurbishment by Techne Architects (also behind Tonka, Barry, Jimmy Grants), but McDonald hopes that the casual eatery will fill in a gap in the market for a more affordable lunch and dinner option in an area dominated by restaurants more geared to special occasion dining.

fondamexican.com.au