Second-hand book store. Snooker hall. Unisex salon. Black-market potato drop-off point. The Heritage-listed building at 13 King William Street in Bayswater has had many uses over the past century. Come the end of February, its new identity will be King Somm, a 120-person neighbourhood bar, restaurant and speciality bottle shop.
More than 18 months in the making, King Somm is a joint project between brother and sister team Dion and Simone Robeson together with their spouses, Alana Robeson and Matt Hayes respectively. Just as each part-owner brings her or his skill set to the party (Simone was the project’s architect while Dion, a photographer by trade, will shoot all of its images), each of its three elements has been designed to work with the others. Guests can buy a bottle of something in the bottle shop and drink it on-site with pizza and small plates. With the owners being local residents, opening King Somm was as much about creating something for their community as it was for themselves.
“This concept with the tavern licence, where you can buy a bottle to take away or drink in, is a very city thing, and I’m really stoked we get to do it out in the neighbourhood,” says Simone. “The neighbourhoods deserve good stuff too. We wanted to create that local bar that people felt comfortable coming to. The demographic here is awesome, with a lot of people who are really into wine and going out and dining.”
While the Robesons and their spouses have been – and remain – hands-on with the build and makeover, they’ve also been joined by some Perth hospitality heavyweights. Aaron Commins, an experienced sommelier who’s worked at Print Hall and Melbourne’s MoVida, is in charge of the wine list and has been given the brief, “what sommeliers drink at home”. (Alana, Dion’s wife, will run the bottle shop). Venue manager Colleen Carney arrives to King Somm after five years at Duende, while the bar’s cocktail and wine programs are the handiwork of Mariusz Ganski (ex-Must Winebar) and importer Grayson Durham.
Ben Atkinson, lately of Meat Candy, has recently signed on to run King Somm’s dedicated kitchen, Jane Dough Pizza. Initially the plan was to offer just pizzas, but since Atkinson’s appointment, the menu will also run to easy-going, wine-friendly small plates: think marinated seafood, salads and house-baked bread and dips.
“I don’t want to portray that we’re breaking barriers,” says Atkinson, who also calls the area home, “we’re just cooking tasty food that isn’t super traditional. We want to give Bayswater something that’s good, fun and priced right. I think it’s going to be well received.”
Jane Dough’s Roberta’s-style pizzas (Atkinson: “bubbly and blistery and not all crust”) will be made using a 48-hour fermented dough and baked in an electric oven. The core menu will feature five largely classic pies (margherita and a prosciutto-topped number, say) with five guest pies moving in and out of rotation. In addition to being served to guests at the bar, pizzas will also be available – like the contents of the bottle shop – for takeaway.
King Somm (13 King William Street, Bayswater) opens at the end of February.