The democratisation of craft beer is taking shape in Chris Lucas yet-to-open Hawker Hall in Windsor, as he and his team settle on the site's concept: a craft beer and hawker-style hall.
The former furniture shop has had little done to it structurally in its 100 years, but that's changing. After the plasterboard ceiling was removed, the sturdy wooden beams beneath helped to inspire the site's direction.
"When we ripped down the ceiling, I thought [the space] would make a great hawker-style market," says Lucas, who returned recently from a trip to Singapore and took much inspiration from its Tiong Bahru Food Centre. He has employed interior design studio heavyweights Eades & Bergman to create the space, which is currently a shell.
The menu, by Lucas Group executive chef Benjamin Cooper and Hawker Hall's head chef, Damian Snell (recently at Prahran's Charlie Dumpling), will be broken into sections dedicated to barbecue, dumplings, curries and noodles, among others. In hawker style, ingredients and dishes will be displayed across the pass of the open kitchen that will sit towards the back of the room.
The front half of the room will contain the bar with at least 30 taps, and this is where Lucas is changing the hospitality beer game. Hawker Hall's rotating beer taps will run with smaller, boutique craft beers from Australia and Asia. A tasting panel, with Lucas, Cooper and other staff, will decide which beers go on, and Lucas is open to small brewers or those starting out to approach them for some tap time at the venue.
"We were inspired by the changing beer environment," he says. "We can see that the big breweries with their standardised beers are becoming a thing of the past."
With 180 seats and no bookings, except for one table, there are hints of the Chin Chin business model here, which could involve queuing. Hawker Hall is due to open in late July at 98 Chapel Street, Windsor.