The Kelly Gang

Image source: Contributed

Matt Golinski meets a hospitality powerhouse of supergroup status.

If you’re my about my age or older, you’ll remember the good old days of the local bistro, where the owner greeted you by name, led you to your favourite table, and popped the cork on that special bottle of wine you bought to enjoy with dinner.

Sadly, the cost of running a restaurant over the past 30 years has increased on a gradient not dissimilar to a bottle of Penfolds Grange, and the only way for most to survive is to make money from both food and booze. Sad, but as The Rolling Stones once said, ‘you can’t always get what you want’.

Tony Kelly’s The Kelly Group seem to have a knack for working out what diners want, and then very successfully setting about delivering an experience so popular, people are prepared to line up from the moment the doors open until the bar calls last drinks every night.

Whether it’s knocking back duck bao and cocktails with friends on a balmy afternoon at Rice Boi, or sharing plate-after-plate of moreish Greek snacks with pints of Yamas at Spero; the winning formula is the same: use good quality ingredients, carefully prepared, but make each dish at a price point that you can afford to share lots of different plates, so as each one hits the table it’s an exciting new adventure.

No pretty flowers placed strategically onto plates with tweezers, just honest food with a nod to its heritage and with a modern twist, designed to be delivered to diners quickly and consistently.

‘Resilience’ is a word that’s been thrown around almost as much as ‘lockdown’ in 2020, and no-one understands exactly what it means better than the hospitality industry; most are still trying to survive, but not Tony.

He’s decided to double down and give the public something else they want. A friendly neighbourhood bistro and wine store right in the middle of the new Maroochy CBD.

Market Bistro offers you the chance to step into Market Wine Store, their wine cellar next door, choose a bottle, pay a modest corkage, then settle in for a gastronomic tour of Italy and France at what will become over time, your favourite table.

If the team in charge of this new project were a rock band, they’d be a Super Group.

Peter Marchant, whose many food and wine credentials include the role of group sommelier for Spicers Retreats for many years, and more recently the general manager of Spicers Long Apron Restaurant in Montville, brings his vast knowledge of all things vinous to Market Wine Store, which will focus predominantly on Australian and New Zealand wines as a way of supporting another industry that’s had a tough year. Small scale boutique winemakers will be the stars on the shelves, and Peter will be there to tell you their stories and guide you towards making the right choice.

Luke Stringer began his career on the coast, and after many years managing the front of house for stellar venues in other cities, we’re lucky enough to have him back to take on the captain’s role at Market Bistro. This is a man who lives and breathes hospitality in the true sense of the word.

Chef Harry Lilai led the famous ‘2 hatted’ Cecconis in Melbourne for 10 years before recently opening Greca at Howard Smith Wharves in Brisbane.

He brings with him a passion for proper, homemade, traditional European food with a freshness and generosity that matches that style of cooking.

And in the background, (on the drums, if you like) is Tony Kelly, the driving beat that brings the band together.

Tony’s foresight, great business sense, and an ability to bring the right people together to make a restaurant a success has earned him the love and respect of his peers and the public alike.

He seems to have an uncanny way of knowing what we all want even before we know it.

And I, like most of the Sunshine Coast, can’t wait to find out what we want next.

About the Author /

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Matt Golinski is a highly regarded chef with a passion for simple, produce-driven cuisine based on seasonal, fresh local ingredients. He is an active member of the Slow Food movement, a champion of artisan producers and a generous mentor to keen young chefs. He is the Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador for the Gympie region; Ambassador and Advisory Executive Chef for Peppers Noosa; and a festival favourite.

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