Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart [founders of Hartsyard] knew we wanted to have our own place. We both worked for them previously and are quite good friends with them. They came to us and asked if we would consider purchasing Hartsyard from them.
At the time, we were in the early stages of mapping ideas for starting our own venue from scratch, but being so young — and with the high costs of starting a restaurant in Sydney — it was out of the question. So we decided to purchase Hartsyard and make it a place for us to learn and grow.
The key challenges are trying to change the perception of customers who have visited over the past six years. We are still trying to find our own voice and break away from the old cuisine and are working towards being recognised for doing something completely different to the previous version of Hartsyard.
Some customers still come in wanting fried chicken, but we politely send them to other restaurants. Most of the time they end up staying and love it!
The menu is now modern Australian but there are also influences from Hong Kong, which is where Dorothy is from. She’s in charge of the wine selection, which is 100 per cent Australian and ranges from cult labels to classics. We are also focusing on vegetarian/ vegan dishes, which is quite different from the previous meat-dominant menu.
We change the menu almost every week, so it reflects what is best in season. We also tend to utilise whole ingredients and work towards creating a no-waste menu. We believe in maintaining good relationships with all our suppliers because they will always look after us and supply us with top-quality produce.
We find it easy to work alongside each other as we both have chef backgrounds. The wine and dishes work together as well as we do!