New look Mediterranean eatery pará opens at Postman’s Quarter restaurant site in Thirroul

The Postman’s Quarter at Thirroul has a new look and new name and the dearest item on the menu this week is a sirloin for $28.

After closing for a month the two owners have drawn on their culinary heritage both from the Mediterranean and Wollongong to reinvent, re-brand and reopen the restaurant they have run for five years. The new name is pará.

Alex Stojanovski and his brother-in-law Daniel Dafkovski come from two families who have in the hospitality scene in the local area for decades. They were born in Australia but their parents came from the Mediterranean. The name pará is taken from a Greek word and means side by side. 

“We are both raising families in Wollongong. We both went to UOW, graduated and went and had a white collar profession for a little bit. But both our families had extensive experience in the hospitality industry in this area and one day Daniel came to me and said let’s buy a restaurant together,” Mr Stojanovksi said.

They started with My Pantry in North Wollongong near the Novotel for a few years.

Then then noticed the Postman’s Quarter site was vacant for a few years and took it on as a different venue offering something different.

“We focused more on fine dining. It took us more than eight months for the fit out. We did everything from scratch,” he said.

Then two men with young families have taken on two other ventures since then.

They run the kiosk at Port Kembla Beach. And Mr Stojanovski is involved with two other business partners in Night Parrot, a late night bar and kitchen in lower Crown Street, Wollongong. 

What they have done with their new Mediterranean restaurant pará is combine all that tradition and experience into a new very affordable casual style restaurant with great food and nice relaxed feel.

“We have love coming up with a new concept and seeing if that fits with the marketplace,” Mr Stojanovski said.

“When we get that right I love seeing people’s reaction to it. We both remember growing up and sitting around the table with our family and the food being brought out by our grandparents, parents, aunties and uncles and being put in the middle of the table. And then us passing the food around and sharing it.”

“That is the way we grew up eating. But being born in Australia we have also taken a lot of influence from local cuisine and local ingredients. So the word pará is also our local food journey. The venue now focuses solely on Mediterranean cuisine but we celebrate local ingredients as well.”

The pará exterior has been described by some as being Santorini white, while the interior is more diverse.

It draws on local history from the old post office site and the steel city that welcomed so many rich cultures from overseas. There is also plenty of Aussie flavour.

The Stojanovski and Dafkovski families have served up and soaked in many Aussie flavours in recent decades. That has included many popular fish and chip/takeaway shops.

“On my side of the family my grandparents on my mother’s side opened the very first fish and chip shop in Corrimal,” Mr Stojanovski said.

“My uncle and aunty operated Tommy’s Corner also in Corrimal for many years..

“My aunty and uncle on my father’s side opened and are still operating now after 32 years Tarrawanna Fish and Chips. And then on my mother’s side again an aunty and uncle operated the Balgownie Fish and Chip Shop just across from the Bally Hotel for 52 years until it was recently knocked down.”

 “On my brother-in-law’s side his father still runs and operates Soprano’s on the Mall. So there is a big hospitality background within our two families. I think just about everyone has been to at least one of those over the years.”  

Mr Stojanovski said the reason for the change in name and new look at the Postman’s Quarter was after five years he felt it was always important to reinvent such a venue.

“Food is like fashion. Things go in and go out. A lot of the hated and good restaurants in Sydney are moving away from fine dining and going more towards a casual style approach. And I think after five years you need to reinvent yourself to give people in your area something new,” he said.   

“We closed at the start of August and reopened at the start of September. We have done a completely new fit-out from colour, furniture, feel, menu and wine list. Every component of the business has changed. Nothing has stayed the same except the location and the phone number.

“It is definitely a more casual and approachable venue in terms of feel and price point. Our concept here is for you to be able to come, look down the menu and enjoy a few items between yourself and your partner or yourself and the group of people you are with. We encourage people to celebrate the way myself and my brother-in-law grew up eating. Which is having the food in the middle of the table and passing it around while enjoying a conversation and good bottle of wine.”  

“And our chefs have a little more fun now because they are not restricted to that fine dining concept. So they can go out and explore different parts of the Mediterranean and draw on some new ideas  We are very fortunate to have Kurtis Blanch and Cassandra Bugeja and hopefully we can make people as happy as we did with the previous venue.

The new look restaurant is open Thursday and Friday nights and from 11am on Saturday and Sunday. 

The constantly changing menu is regularly updated on the website.