A new bar serving up house-made snacks and local wines and spirits has opened in Wollongong.
Roy's Restobar, run by mates Lloyd Hendricksen and Vince Gibbs, had its first service this Tuesday and fills a hole in the city's dining scene since the closure of The Throsby in 2022.
Having first become friends in high school, Mr Hendricksen and Mr Gibbs ran venues together on Sydney's northern beaches and Canada, before moving to Wollongong after lockdown.
Their new venue is inspired by travels through Europe, where diners blurred the line between bar and restaurant, serving up a cocktail and a snack or a meal enjoyed solo or with a group along with a tight selection of local wines.
Coming across the vacant shopfront near the corner of Keira and Market streets, the pair had found the spot where they could put it all together.
"We have always wanted a small neighbourhood venue and this venue in particular had that feel for us," Mr Hendricksen said. "Being able to have a seat at the bi-folds and watch the town go by or pull up a chair at the bar and see a couple best mates working back to back."
Expect the two to have somewhat red faces as they work over a charcoal grill, used to grill and char seafood and vegetables.
For the opening week, the menu starts with grilled olives and preserved citrus, BBQ broccoli and grilled stone fruit, progressing to a grilled market fish served with anchovy and beach herbs.
Much of the menu is also made in house, including malted dinner rolls served with house butter and a home-made coppa and tomato 'xo' sauce, house-made cheese and house cured sardines.
Where possible, produce is sourced locally, including the pork livers used for the home-made parfait sourced from Martins Ridge Farm in Conjola, which also hosted Mr Hendricksen's wedding.
"My mate Rhys and his family have Martins Ridge Farm down in Conjola, he and I have been mates for the better part of a decade, it just so happens that his family produces some of the best pork I've ever worked with," Mr Hendricksen said. "It's great to be able to offer something from the farm which I have so many amazing memories of."
On the drinks side, while the venue might be inspired by Europe, the drops are exclusively local across the beer and wine list. All spirits are local, except for where there is no alternative, such as tequila.
"We believe we have enough great producers within Australia that we don't need to look elsewhere and also want to support these guys as much as possible," Mr Hendricksen.
The fit-out is a far cry from previous operators in the space, with reclaimed hardwood floorboards sourced from an old church in Picton, and all tables are hand built from recycled wood.
"Vince and I even got the hammer drills out to chip off the render to expose bricks. It's all a little imperfect but that's how we like it."
After a number of previous venues have cycled through the space, Mr Hendricksen and Mr Gibbs are offering Wollongong locals a chance to pull up a bentwood chair, sit at the bar and watch the city go by.
"We want people to be able to come in for a snack and one glass of wine or to sit down and enjoy a few cocktails while they eat their way through the menu. It's a bit of a pick your own adventure."
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