While it’s not exactly the first thing you look at when stepping into a restaurant, a staff uniform is the icing on the cake of a venue’s overall design. With a past life in fashion, Felicity Rodgers launched work-wear brand Cargo Crew in 2012 as a response to the cookie-cutter hospitality uniforms that often favour function over design. You may have already spied the company’s aprons on the hair stylists at an Edwards & Co salon, custom-painted with a patina of dye and bleach. Or the aprons at our Broadsheet Restaurant, which are inspired by the clean lines and premium fabrics of Japanese street-wear.
For Rodgers, a well-made, contemporary uniform is all in the detail. It needs to respect both form and function while enhancing brand identity. “A uniform further amplifies a venues visual identity,” explains Rodgers. “Besides the practical side of ensuring the staff is easily identifiable, uniforms play an integral role in the theatre of creating a memorable dining experience.”
All of that got us to thinking: Which bars and restaurants around Sydney have their staff members in uniforms that make us take a second look?
Da Orazio by Ten Pieces Few know that Sydney restaurateur Maurice Terzini also runs a small-scale fashion label with partner Lucy Hinkfuss. While the duo designs uniforms for Icebergs and The Dolphin Hotel, Da Orazio is where Terzini’s style comes through most. A contemporary take on the traditional pizzaioli (pizza chef) uniform, the sporty, all-white ensembles fit in effortlessly with the Bondi Beach style. “For Da Orazio we were after a hassle-free, unisex uniform that embodied the bright sense of speed and energy in the room,” says Terzini, also a co-owner of Da Orazio. “We also like the freshness and invisibility of an all-white uniform.”
Della Hyde by Cargo Crew Since meeting Hamish Watts and Ben Carroll of Applejack Hospitality during a Sydney pop-up event, Cargo Crew has been outfitting several of the group’s venues, including dive bar Della Hyde. In a sea of pastel pink and green, reminiscent of the fictitious Grand Budapest Hotel, you’ll spot the staff at in a muted pairing of checkers and charcoal. The Henry Bib Apron features a new-meets-old-world, vintage-look fabric and adjustable PU leather straps.
Bar Brosé by Worktones Walk the length of Bar Brosé and you’ll find yourself amid a sea of blue. There are stone-coloured dinner plates, cerulean-washed floors and midnight-leather menus. But it doesn’t end there. Finding the perfect shade of navy to marry with the rest of the fit-out proved to be a process of back and forth between the Brosé team and specialist workwear label Worktones. “At Worktones we use a 100 per cent drilled-cotton fabric. It’s comfortable, durable and looks natural and neat in such a fresh workspace,” explains creative director Huw Bennett. “From there, we workshopped a number of colours through dye tests to come up with a shade that complemented the current fit out.”
Stanbuli by Retrospect All coiffed hair, bow ties and full circle skirts, the staff at Stanbuli looks more like it walked off the floor of a 1950s dancehall than a restaurant’s front of house. Elvis Abrahanowicz and Joe Valore, the rockabilly duo behind Porteño, have carried their trademark style through to their latest venture by sidestepping the traditional work-wear route. The New Look swing dresses and high-waisted pants have been pulled straight from the racks of vintage-inspired store, Retrospec’d.