There is something special about the Geelong CBD early on a Spring Saturday. There's a strange hush on the streets, soft golden light filtering around buildings, a complete absence of shoppers and traffic. It was one of my favourite times when I was living in the apartment, a time to get up, go for a walk through the dappled light of Johnson Park, catch a quiet coffee before the rush of Saturday brunch business.
I was up early for a train to Melbourne, planning to have brunch in the city before an early afternoon flight to Canberra for the Science Pathways forum at the Australian Academy of Science. I was taking my time walking along Malop St, planning to stop in at Mr Hyde, when the doorway of the old 2-Faces caught my eye.
A table with two chairs on the sidewalk, a table set up across the beautiful old doorway, and in pride of place, a small shiny coffee machine and grinder, glinting in the sun. I couldn't resist, as my curiosity took my feet across the road to check out what is soon-to-be Geelong's newest eatery and bar, There There.
The two guys were friendly, happy to talk about their plans while pulling my Coffee Cartel long black (which was excellent), sitting on the steps and making the most of the warm morning sun. Their enthusiasm is evident and, with little more than a "Cool, new venue!", I'm offered a first look at the reworked interior, that whilst still devoid of furniture, feels much lighter and brighter than the previous incarnation. The beautifully crafted wooden bar is an immediate stand-out, vast potential evident, while the narrow blonde floorboards lead the eye further into depths still to be explored. The new owners are both chefs by trade, with fine dining pedigrees, interested in high-quality food, with an emphasis on casual sharing-style menu. As my guide put it, somewhere you can meet up with friends, sample your way through the menu, and have a few drinks.
This new venue could give Mr Hyde a run for the money, jumping into a space that the beautiful old bank has previously dominated. It will be interesting to see if they fill the void that Mr Hyde has recently created with the shift to afternoon openings and closing of BoxOffice, and whether the new kids in town will take it to the experienced cocktail crew. Mr Hyde has had to battle the 'expensive' tag that the opulent interior has, perhaps unfairly, been lumped with, and it will be interesting to see if the lads at There There battle the same stigma given the reputation of the building's previous occupant.