By ALEC SMART
The site under construction. Photo: Alec Smart
ReStreet property developers have recently acquired a prime piece of real estate in Darlinghurst, on the edge of Kings Cross and adjacent to Darlinghurst Fire Station, and they’re collaborating with Dallad Construction to bring it to life. We caught up with Alistair Jones, Dallad Construction Director, to find out more.
There’s something intriguing taking place behind the black hoarding encircling number 1 Kings Cross Rd in Darlinghurst. For the geographically unfamiliar, it’s at the Victoria Rd/William St interface, in front of The Elan Building, at the peak of the hill before it rolls east down to Rushcutters Bay.
Still unsure? Most people would instantly place it if they were told to look for the internationally-famous illuminated scarlet sign at the top of William St, advertising the world’s most famous cola drink (two words, both starting with C).
When facing the coke-red coloured sign, tilt your gaze south (anti-clockwise), and pause mid-way between the historic 1911-built Darlinghurst Fire Station to the right (which, curiously, resembles a Medieval tournament helmet worn by jousting knights), and the aforementioned glowing red sign to the left.
There you’ll see a raised semicircular platform, accessed by stairs and paved like a chequers board for the neighbourhood pigeons playing avian chess. So, what is taking place behind the black hoarding - which bears the bold white lettering “re.street. Reimagine. Redevelop. Rebuild.” - an upgrade or a rebuild?
“A complete new attached building,” Alistair Jones revealed, “completed by way of approved DA [Development Application]. ReStreet purchased the site 6 months ago and have engaged Dallad to build the new structure...”
When the construction is complete, what will the premises be utilised for? “Bettys Burgers,” he replied. “We expect the business to be operating mid-year…”
Artist's impression of the new premises at 1 Kings Cross Rd Darlinghurst
Betty’s Burgers – aka Betty’s Burgers and Concrete Co. - is a nationwide chain of licensed, 1950s-style, premium hamburger restaurants with 46 stores across Australia – 12 in the Sydney metropolitan area. After posting $83.2 million in revenue in the 2021 financial year (up from $68.9 million in 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic limiting in-store dining), Betty’s Burgers is set to expand to at least 150 stores across Australia.
Their menus offer a range of classic burgers, fries, salads, desserts and freshly-made ice cream thickshakes, with vegan and gluten-free options available too.
Betty’s Burgers has been linked to Beatrice ‘Betty’ Wallace – who, in 1978, started selling American-inspired beef burgers from a food van on Noosa Heads Main Beach in Queensland for $1 each – under the name ‘Sunshine Coast Snacks and Things’, later ‘Betty’s Beach Burgers’.
However, the similarly-named ‘Betty’s Burgers and Concrete Co’ was actually inspired by the grandmother of hospitality magnate and founder David Hales, Betty Anderson. Coincidentally, they also opened their flagship store in Noosa Heads, at 50 Hastings St, opposite Noosa Heads Main Beach, in Dec 2014.
The franchise is owned by Retail Zoo, the parent company of the Boost Juice, Cibo Espresso and Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill outlets.
In 2019, Managing Director Troy McDonagh told QSR Media the reason for their expansion and continued success. “I put it down to three key ingredients: People, Product, and Place… I think those three things really resonate with our guests.”
Place: “We try to bring that Noosa beach shack vibe. There’s a nostalgic sentiment that transforms you when you’re on holidays… so, we tried to bring those nostalgic elements into our restaurants and our design.”
People: “What we try to create a genuineness to our approach to hospitality. So, the teams that we hire and the people that work within the brand have to capture the essence of what we’re trying to do. It’s almost a resort-style feel and you’ve got a team of people that are really capturing that vibe and energy.”
Product: “We really try to keep the product simple and fresh. We strive for high quality; where possible, we produce the products in-restaurant so there’s a real artisan, unique, handcrafted approach to our burgers, fries, and shakes.”
ReStreet, the guiding force behind the design of Betty’s Burgers’ new Sydney outlet, describe themselves as “A collation of driven professionals, with hunger for success, a passion for building and delivering developments that redefine the boundaries. ReStreet’s harmonious design responds to the neighbourhood character. It focuses on craftsmanship, sustainability and integrity.”
As for the premises at 1 Kings Cross Rd, ReStreet reveal: “The new architecturally-designed restaurant will showcase over 300m2 of commercial retail space, with 3 street frontages across Victoria Street, Kings Cross Road and Craigend Street.
“The DA plans now under construction are to expand the restaurant with indoor and external seating with 35m frontage and 6.3m ceiling height. The highly exposed and elevated position will showcase expansive city views and become one of William Streets iconic locations.”
The notorious 'Stones Against The Sky' artwork. Photo: supplied
Stones Against Art
However, perhaps only a minor distraction, in the foreground of the construction project, smack-bang in the middle of the raised, chequered platform of 1 Kings Cross Rd, is the infamous 'Stones Against the Sky' sculpture by Ken Unsworth.
Erected 1998 and arguably Australia’s ugliest piece of public art, it features what looks like seven eyeballs skewered on cocktail sticks. Originally coloured russet brown, which earned it the unkind but deserved moniker ‘Poo on Sticks’, it’s now painted black and less likely to put you off your premium burgers.
I asked Alistair Jones, “Can Dallad be prevailed upon to win the hearts and minds of the general public by replacing Ken Unsworth's wretched ‘Stones Against The Sky’ statue - aka ‘Poo On Sticks’ - with something more aesthetically pleasing?”
However, carefully avoiding wading into a cultural firestorm, he only replied cryptically, “The previous site has been a major eyesore and the work being undertaken is state of the art, fully designed and will be a major upgrade of the area for the community.”