“What’s open in Perth on a Monday night?”
Once upon a time, this was a common question posed in P-Town. That time feels long gone.
More and more restaurants, bars and pubs are choosing to open on Mondays and eschew the traditional Tuesday-to-Saturday trading model favoured by many operators. Fremantle restaurant Vin Populi, for example, burst out of the gates with seven-day trading. Mount Hawthorn wine bar Sonny’s is another newcomer open at the start of the week. Ditto Subiaco’s impressive Hellenic debutante Yiamas.
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Admittedly, news that one can head out on a Monday night for a meal and drink isn’t exactly reason enough to stop the press. Corner pubs have long fed and watered locals at the start of the week, as have neighbourhood takeaway joints. Rather, what is interesting to note is the growing number of options we can choose from when it comes to Monday night dining and wining. Looking for somewhere to host an impromptu Monday celebration? Rockpool Bar & Grill and its tremendous wine list remain the casino’s safest best. Want to sip nice wines in a cosy room? The enoteca-like wine store at Lalla Rookh has your back (and back vintage). Craving ace burgers served with a heaping side of ’80s nostalgia plus a well-stocked bar? Go directly to your nearest Hoodburger and see your doctor if pain persists.
So what’s the reasoning behind businesses' decisions to open on Monday, typically one of the week’s slower days? From talking to bar and restaurant owners, it seems wanting to service their peers in the hospitality industry (Sunday and Monday are regarded as the industry’s traditional “weekend”) is a key consideration – not least because hospitality folks tend to be good spenders. But more and more, it’s not just bartenders, chefs, cooks and waitstaff that are in the market to eat and drink on Monday.
“There are a lot of people out there who think, ‘Oh, it's Monday night. It’s my first day back at work and I don’t want to go home and cook dinner,’” says Dimitri Rtshiladze, owner of CBD cocktail bar Foxtrot Unicorn and Northbridge pub Edward & Ida’s, both venues that are open on Mondays. “They’ll go out for a quick bite to eat and something to drink. They're not necessarily going to go out and have a belter, but they’re in the venue and it creates a nice vibe.”
Despite the CBD having a reputation for being deserted during the week, Rtshiladze says there are still plenty of people around the city and Foxtrot is able to offer pre- and post-dinner drinks to guests dining at nearby restaurants such as Balthazar. Over the three months Edward & Ida’s has been open, opening Mondays has paid off. (Rtshiladze: “I don’t think we’ve had a Monday which wasn’t worth opening.”) But, in addition to being there for guests, opening the doors is also about being there for staff.
“If we open on a Monday and we break even, it’s still winning,” says Rtshiladze. “You’re still giving staff hours, you're able to employ more people, and you’ve got more scope to employ better people and keep them employed.”
Harry Peasnell, co-owner of Fremantle’s freshly minted family-friendly pizzeria Lola’s, is another believer in going out on Mondays and looking after both guests and his staff. While the charming space he and his wife Harriet Roxburgh have created is a wonderful environment to dine in, servicing the takeaway crowd is also a big part of Lola’s mission statement. (This week, says Peasnell, he sold seven takeaway pizzas to passers-by who walked past and noticed the bustling restaurant.) Every diner that comes in is a potential takeaway customer: either in future or right away.
“I don’t mind if a table of four comes down and has two pizzas, a salad and a bottle of wine and they sit for an hour and a half for a chat,” says Peasnell. “At least people are around and it builds that familiarity. Hopefully, that then translates to someone thinking, ‘That pizza is great, I could see myself eating this on my couch.’”
Since opening at the end of September, Lola’s has enjoyed two busy Mondays. Peasnell and head chef Drew Dawson are expecting to get a little busier when they launch the restaurant’s Monday night special later this month, featuring one of the restaurant’s 14-inch cheese pizzas at the bargain price of $17 (almost half-price compared to its $32 ticket price on the menu) plus cut-price beers and Negronis. Not that Lola’s is the only venue using Monday specials to attract guests. Al Lupo in Leighton Beach does a Monday night pasta and glass of wine special that’s pitched at locals, while Clint Nolan’s Johnny Fox’s offers guests Monday night steak specials.
Finally, Mondays are also a chance for chefs to get creative and trial new dishes, as well as cleverly make use of what’s in the coolroom before the venue closes for a couple of days. While not a dinner offering, Millbrook’s No Waste Monday, which was introduced in 2017 by then-restaurant-manager Katrina Lane, is perhaps the best example of this creative, resourceful thinking. Why haven’t other venues adopted something similar?
For Liam Atkinson, Mondays at Bar Rogue let him stress test work-in-progress dishes and let go of the safety rope. Some Bar Rogue dishes – the stracciatella with pineapple fritter and ash, say – have these Monday night experiments as part of their origin stories. But more than anything, Bar Rogue opening on Mondays is just a good neighbourly thing to do.
“There weren’t many options on a Monday, so we wanted to do something for people like ourselves, our hospo friends and also for the locals that are poking around,” says Sarah Atkinson, co-owner of Bar Rogue and Le Rebelle with husband Liam. “There are quite a few of our regulars that live within a few blocks of the bar who are excited that we’re here for them on a Monday.”