Self-taught chef Logan Punyanitya’s cooking career started after he sold his Sydney stockbroking firm in 2010 and opened Northbridge Latin-fusion restaurant, Big El’s.
After selling the restaurant when made an offer he couldn’t refuse, Punyanitya turned to the food truck business. When approached to reinvent Big El’s as part of Yagan Square, Punyanitya and business partner Cynthia Lu jumped at the chance.
Big El’s x The WKND takes the cuisine and cocktails of Big El’s and adds specialty coffee into the casual, cafe-style mix. The menu sees the return of some Big El’s bestsellers alongside new items; think quesadillas, Cuban sandwiches and tacos. Breakfast is also served. The name, if you’re wondering, doesn’t have any particular significance.
“We’re trying to build a menu that’s precise but also different enough: my old menu was massive,” says Punyanitya. “We’re also catering a lot for vegans, it allows you to experiment with new flavours. I was a really meat-oriented person when I first started cooking and now I love jackfruit.”
Manager of Big El’s x The WKND is coffee veteran Ronald Ngo, a former Five Senses roaster and ex-co-owner of Perth cafes Architects and Heroes and Maven Espresso. Five Senses supply the house blend with other roasters making guest appearances in both espresso and filter.
“Everyone has started opening up in suburbia so I want to bring that focus back to the CBD,” says Ngo. “Office workers deserve good coffee, and we already have repeat customers and regulars.”
Big El’s x The WKND’s position on the outside of Yagan Square means that city-goers can finally access decent coffee well into the evening. For those looking to avoid caffeine after 4pm, the drinks menu includes Latin-American beers and a range of “fancy and showy” cocktails. More craft beers and natural wines are on the agenda.
Yagan Square’s spread of vendors and competitive lunch trade has given way to some competitive pricing: Big El’s x The WKND’s elegantly plated chilli dog is just $10.
“After living in Sydney for five years and taking a lot of trips to Melbourne, you wonder how Perth can be so expensive,” says Punyanitya. “Obviously it comes down to rents and the prices people are willing to pay, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’ve got a good product and people keep coming back, you don’t need sky-high prices to stay alive.”
Sun to Thu 6am–10pm
Fri & Sat 7am–midnight