Mullumbimby locals might have noticed a few changes taking place at 55 Station Street recently. After a brief stint as La Familia (during the difficult times of COVID lockdowns and floods), the much-loved outdoor venue is now open and operating as HOOPER’S Craft Bar & Eats. This is the second HOOPER’S venture by owner Jack Wright, whose sister cafe in Brunswick Heads has been serving up burgers and fish & chips to its loyal following for many years now.
Expanding on the Brunswick Heads model, the Mullumbimby HOOPER’S offers a big selection of burgers, fish & chips, salads and treats like popcorn cauliflower, chicken wings and cheesy jalapeno balls. In addition, the Station Street establishment has a well-appointed bar offering a solid range of local craft beers, cocktails, wines and spirits. And for those who want a night in, they’re doing take-away food too.
‘We’re sticking with what we know works,’ says Jack Wright. ‘After some really tough times for our community, we reckon good, unpretentious food and a few drinks with family and friends is just what’s needed.’
Family is an important theme for Mullumbimby-born Jack, who named HOOPER’S in honour of his brother after he passed away in 2009. With his mother and sisters involved in both restaurants, too, the local, family spirit is a key part of the HOOPER’S ethos.
‘Nothing beats getting around a table with your loved ones and having a great feed,’ says Jack. ‘We want HOOPER’S to be a place where people gather and enjoy the good things in life. We know that’s the way Hooper himself would have wanted it to be.’
Licensee and General Manager Millie Oats is excited by the prospect of Mullumbimby having a new place to eat and drink.
‘This is arguably the nicest venue in Mullum,’ says Millie. ‘Set in beautiful gardens, with lots of seating and little nooks to enjoy a cocktail in, it’s hard to beat. We’re already getting plenty of great feedback about how much this kind of place was needed.’
Millie says HOOPER’S in Mullumbimby will focus on ensuring their menu has options for all tastes and needs, from healthy salads to grilled fish, to crowd-favourite burgers and Cajun fries. And the bar will source from local brewers and distillers where possible.
HOOOPER’S at 55 Station Street will be open for dine-in and takeaway, Tuesday to Saturday 11.30am–9.00pm.
Enjoy the nightlife before Council builds its cheap housing
How cool to have another venue in the middle of Mullumbimby that’s family-friendly, where you can also get a pretty decent range of wine and craft beers, including local Wandana Brewery beers, some cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks as well as decently priced burger-style meals.
Whilst there have been many incarnations at 55 Station St, judging by the number of people at Hooper’s last Saturday night they might have hit on a winning and sustainable formula for casual night-time drinks and food at the site. There was also a bit of an ‘up’ vibe owing to the music – not too loud but just enough, at least from where we were sitting.
There were noise complaints after night-time events under previous owners, but every town needs a range of night-time options to keep it alive, to augment the pubs, which are not for everyone, or every family. Hooper’s also presents a low-key ‘plants and wood’ façade to the entry to town – it looks inviting.
Every car park was full at 5.30pm on a Saturday night – indicating that with all the shops shut the car park is full of people creating some vibrant nightlife in the centre of Mullum.
Enjoy it while it lasts, because surely as soon as Council builds its cheap housing above that car park, all those car parking spots will be lost, the entry to Mullumbimby will now become an unsightly multi-storey block of condos, noise complaints from neighbours between Milk & Honey and Hooper’s will kill the nightlife, and the Hooper’s site will be redeveloped to become yet another block of flats.
Hopefully, since the proposal will only house a measly 50 people, and won’t be completed until 2024 at best, Council will come up with a more meaningful solution to the affordable housing situation, in a more suitable location that doesn’t wreck the entrance to town and enables the centre of town to become a vibrant shopping and nightlife area.