Brothers Luke and Martin Harvey have built a cafe out in the sticks with the perfect balance of Melbourne cool, American inspiration and an adverse location.
Taking its name from the end-of-the-line station in Brooklyn, New Lots is perched on the industrial perimeter of South Melbourne, but it’s got plenty of things going for it: excellent coffee, good food and a quiet suburban park for a neighbour.
“It’s just such a desolate area in Brooklyn and we’re out here,” reflects Luke, who also wrestles the bar at smash hit Radio Mexico.
Together with his brother and Jonathan Nolan (ex-Automatic), Luke gutted the old milk bar to make way for New Lots, cramming a commercial kitchen and cafe into the tiny space. But surrounded by glass windows, industrial buildings and wide streets, the eatery has room to breathe. And it will probably need it, especially once the locals realise the boys are dishing up slow roasted lamb shoulder or pork belly sandwiches and ‘hot dawgs’ with mixed slaw from 11am. Vegetarians can also breathe a sigh of relief: the ‘Eggs Brooklyn’ with mayo, avocado and salsa are tops and there are a variety of fine looking salads.
“Brooklyn is the mecca of hip-hop, while a lot of places in Melbourne at the moment are cutsie – it’s like sitting in the park with a blanket and some toys,” jokes Martin, who, determined to distinguish New Lots from the plethora of Melbourne cafes, sourced original artwork, old train signals and station signs from New York.
“The primary reason we built this is because we thought the area needed something outstanding,” he says.