By Danielle Bowling | Hospitality Magazine
The team behind Pork’d in Sydney’s Surry Hills has announced it’s leaving the Crown Street shop and hitting the road, converting the concept into a food truck in early 2016.
Founders Mick Bains of the Royal Albert Hotel, chef Mark Jensen and his wife Pauline Nguyen launched Pork’d earlier this year, offering Sydney residents a pork and craft beer focused casual eatery.
Despite their affection for the Crown Street site, which was previously operated as the flagship Red Lantern restaurant, the team has decided to pack up and go mobile.
“We love the [Pork’d] concept, and we want to take it mobile,” Pauline Nguyen told Hospitality. “We’ve been looking into food trucks for a while and we opened in Crown Street to see how the concept would go. It really is a food truck concept that we brought into the space, but we want to take it around to more people. Because of our bandwidth, however, we can’t do both.”
Rather than simply walking away from the Surry Hills site, the Pork’d owners want to be actively involved in the process of finding new tenants, and would like to see the site taken up by operators that Mark, Pauline, and her brother Luke – who have an enviable reputation in the foodservice industry – can mentor moving forward.
“Between the three of us we have decades of experience, and have been lucky enough to win numerous restaurant and business awards. We’d love to help the lucky operator that ends up at Crown Street by supporting, guiding and mentoring them as they launch their business,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen added that she’d love to see the site go to an operator that is enthusiastic and might not have a lot of starting capital or marketing experience, but offers passion and great ideas in spades.
“We’ve had some really exciting people interested … but we don’t just want to mentor anyone; it needs to be exciting for us. It’s just such a perfect space. But we don’t want them to operate it as Pork’d. We want to keep that for ourselves!” she said.
Licensed to seat 50, the site is a street facing terrace with a fully operational kitchen, a liquor license, storage facilities, a cool room and backyard.
Nguyen said she and her partners are yet to determine whether they’d consider investing in the business that replaces Pork’d, and insists that the launch of the food truck and the closure of the stand-alone Pork’d site won’t affect Red Lantern on Riley or Salmon and Bear, which Jensen launched with Joel Katz and Joe Ward in July this year.
The team are hoping to launch the Pork’d food truck by March 2016, offering all the favourites from the restaurant’s menu as well as some new additions.
“We’ll start with one truck and hit the festivals and events, with the intention to travel outside the CBD as well,” Nguyen said.
“Now we can take Pork’d to more people. It’s something that we’ve not done before. It’ll be fun and it’ll be exciting. We’ve done our research and we have no doubt that what Pork’d can offer will be next level in quality.”
Anyone interested in the Crown Street site should get in touch with Pauline at firstname.lastname@example.org