Matt Wilkinson has spent a lot of time thinking about milkbars – how they came about, the purpose they once served and how they've evolved. Now he's working on a milkbar for a new generation, with Jack Horner taking shape in Brunswick East.
"If you take an English corner shop with an off-licence and the Australian milk bar and then you add a little bit of a San Francisco or NY deli, that's what we have in mind," says Wilkinson, who, with Ben Foster, also owns Pope Joan and food store Hams and Bacon in nearby Nicholson Street.
Jack Horner, on the ground floor of the development at the former Tip Top bakery site in Weston Street, will provide household basics – pantry essentials, toilet paper, pet food – a deli counter, a canteen and a small bottle shop for locals, including 600 apartment-dwellers living upstairs.
Grab a tray and get in line at the canteen. Head chef Travis Welch (ex Circa, Pope Joan) will be dishing up seasonal pickles and house-made cheese, breakfast dishes, pre-made sandwiches, up to 12 salads and four hot dishes a day, to eat in or take home.
"We don't want it to be a cafe. I don't know what to call it," says Wilkinson, whose own CV includes stints at Edinburgh's Michelin-starred Restaurant Martin Wishart, Vue de Monde and Circa.
Jack Horner is expected to open mid-April, with Wilkinson and Foster hoping to roll out others in the CBD and southside in future.