Story and photos: Lesley Hannaford and Cristina Sharratt
Last Thursday night, the doors were thrown open for the official launch of Republik, and a lucky few had the chance to see what the new owners had done with the space, seemingly overnight. The music was great, drinks flowed and the laid back but professional wait staff made sure that everyone was looked after.
Set in the heart of Byron Bay on Jonson Street, the venue has had a few incarnations in the past four years; as a cafe, pizza bar and Italian restaurant. Two couples (Philippa and Jeremy Bennett, and Steven and Violet Innes) took over Sante this year and, using the experience gained during years of running well-known establishments in Byron Bay and overseas, they have transformed the place.
The eclectic art on the walls has been replaced with fantastic local photography, the booths have received a much-needed makeover and the takeaway pizza window has become the ultimate people-watching spot on Jonson Street.
What didn’t change was an emphasis on good food, an affordable menu and friendly, efficient service.
A lot of love and hard work has clearly gone into the renovations. The tropical feature wall would give anyone serious wallpaper envy and the whole space has a sleeker, more contemporary look. The outside area now feels more defined as an alfresco terrace lit up by candles and fairy lights. Thoughtful touches like rugs to wrap up with on cooler nights ensure this space can be enjoyed all year round.
The new menu will be changing weekly, using the finest fresh produce sourced locally from the Northern Rivers and will include a range of contemporary dishes based on global influences.
The diverse wine list will represent a range of different wine styles, from both boutique and major producers, from around the globe, and if you are looking for something different their well-travelled bartenders will be able to create a cocktail to suit your mood. Happy hour is weekdays 5-6pm and weekends 4-6pm.
Republik offers a stylish comfortable environment with a warm, hospitable welcome to the whole community. Perfect for cosy couples in the courtyard or a group gathering if you’re lucky enough to nab one of those booths.
And if you’re a family, Mondays could be the new Friday. Parents take note – kids eat free at Republik every Monday night; there’s a special kids’ menu.
Republik: 95 Jonson St Byron Bay. Open 7 days: Mon-Thurs from 5pm, Fri-Sun from 4pm until late.
Reservations: 02 6685 5009.
Email: [email protected]