A lot of people have asked us how we chose the location for The Dandylion Bondi and what work went into creating it. Originally it was our local DVD store which unfortunately didn't withstand the transition into the digital age. When Guido, Valeria and I saw the shopfront up for Lease, we felt a sadness for the fate of our local DVD store, but after some discussion we also realised this could be an opportunity. It was the perfect location and layout for our dream restaurant and bar, although a little premature for us, as we were still very much in the planning phase. We applied for the Lease and after many months of negotiation we signed the papers. It finally began to feel real, that our dream of a vegetarian & vegan fine dining restaurant was on its way to being realised! Then began the really hard work. We started everything from scratch and everything was totally new for us! We soon learned that turning a DVD store into a functioning restaurant is a huge job. We had to apply to council for consent for everything and to the liquor board (OLGR) as well. Licenses and applications we thought would take a few weeks have taken up to 6 months or more in some case, and involved days of paperwork. The actual construction was huge, we had to replace everything. The plumbing, the electricity, and the grease trap were all huge jobs. We were extremely lucky to find an amazing engineer called Jackson from Atlantic Construction Services, and he has helped us through every step of the way. The design of the restaurant began as a collaboration between ourselves and two Interior Designers, Adele & Karoliina. Working with their initial concept we took the plans to Benedict & Cam from Alchemy Black, and they worked a magic I could have only dreamed of. Ben took the girls concept for recycled railway sleepers for the bar and created this absolute object of beauty, that I still cannot stop admiring, it is topped with a huge slab of antique wood and polished with beeswax and also a special 'alchemists brew'. He adapted our table concept with his own vision to create the booths, which were very far from our original plan but were so mesmerising from his design that we couldn't resist. their assistant at the time, Christian, made these still beams for the booths which were completely original in Bondi. The feature lights above the bar were created by my friend Diego. He is a glass artist from Mexico who was working at the Jam Gallery in Adelaide at the time. We sent him rough designs, and he created the final product. I am still enchanted with the result: three beautiful glass pendant lights hanging above the bar, and one in the corner - all finished with maple wood, that he made in collaboration with a wood artist in Adelaide.
A lot of our own sweat, blood and tears went into the construction. Renovation is a costly process and so putting in your own muscle when possible can really help. We were very lucky to have so many beautiful friends and family to call on for some working bees. Everyone helped, friends, family, partners, even our little nephews and children picked up their paint brushes. The work took on a whole new feeling with so much community involvement. Valeria, our brilliant head chef is also a talented artist, and she created the mural of the Dandy Woman blowing the seeds, an image we had played with since the beginning. The next stage was to start the final furnishings and finishing touches. I can honestly say that I never knew so much about homeware and hardware shops in Alexandria as I now do! I felt like Bunnings was a third home. We had some very special friends lend their talents through this process. Matt handsawed the custom wooden decks that you see in the front of the restaurant and the coffee table in the corner, and my friend and art director, Kavi, put all the beautiful finishing decorations in place which really gave Dandylion its character. I am not sure if we could have created such a beautiful place without all the help we recieved from our friends and family. A year after signing the Lease, and six months after opening our doors, it feels like a great time to reflect on that.
To see images of the Dandylion undergoing her renovation click here.