It's fair to say that something big is happening in Fairfield. In the space of a few weeks, this leafy yet semi-industrial suburb in Melbourne's north-east will have gained at least four cafes and restaurants.
Two bakery behemoths are leading the charge. The first is Oakleigh's Nikos Cakes, which opened on May 13 opposite Fairfield Station at 254 Wingrove Street. Originally seeking a commercial kitchen and bakery, the Poupouzas family thought the opportunity to bring more than their fudge-filled mudcakes northside was too good to pass up. Their new cafe, restaurant and bakery will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner with a Greek twist (think eggs with tsoureki, or Easter bread).
Murrumbeena's cult Middle Eastern bakery, cafe and grocer Oasis has taken over a former supermarket at 92-96 Station Street. Officially opening on June 15, it seats 176 over two floors, and sells the same delicious spices, nuts, wraps, shawarma and falafels as at the original, but with table service and an all-day wine list. The second level will be available for functions and will hold weekly cooking classes.
"Fairfield represents the evolution of the Oasis empire since our early days selling pita bread, falafel and a small range of Middle Eastern groceries," says founding owner Marwa Makool. "Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined the success of Oasis when we first opened the doors of our little store 20 years ago."
Canteen by Brother Basil opened last month at coffee roaster Brother Basil's head office at 184 Christmas Street, in an industrial estate off Grange Road. Naturally it's serving Brother Basil coffee, plus toasties, baguettes, salads and pies filled with beef brisket, lamb or mac and cheese to grab and go. Right now, there are just a few seats but they'll add more in the coming months.
And nearby, the Outer Circle Social Club (named for the train line that once ran through the suburb) opened about six weeks ago at 299 Arthur Street. It serves standard cafe fare with an American barbecue twist, so the brisket for the reuben is house-smoked.
Owner Justin Sirianni believes the reason for so many new openings is because Fairfield is far too nice to be full of factories. "My ultimate goal would be to have people look back in 10 years' time and say that Outer Circle Social Club really ruined the area, really gentrified it," he laughs.