Mary’s on: The splendour of festival food

09 July, 2019 by
Madeline Woolway

Mary’s and Mary’s pizzeria will once again grace the lawns of Splendour in the Grass. The Sydney icons are heading to the three-day festival with plans to serve up classics.

It’s the fourth year at Splendour in the Grass for the group, who have made a name for themselves on the festival scene. The pop-up veterans will take up residency in the Gold Bar — the VIP bar serving all the artists, celebrities and the lucky few who have a VIP ticket. The bar will offer Mary’s burgers with a view: the Gold Bar gives a side of stage viewing platform at the Amphitheatre stage and prime outlook on the main stage.


It’s the first time Mary’s Pizzeria will make an appearance at the Byron Bay festival. The Detroit-style pizza slingers will also bring salumi boards to the newly announced VIP Village.

Hospitality spoke to founders Kenny Graham and Jake Smyth about how they pull the whole thing off while managing six distinct venues back home in Sydney.


“The menu is all about getting it out quick smart but maintaining the integrity of the product,” the duo says. “Also, it needs to sound fucking delicious as they temptation to spend all your coin on booze is always there.”

Pumping out restaurant-quality bites at a festival means equipment and staff need to be just right.


“Minimise equipment used as this costs money as you quite often have to hire things,” say Graham and Smyth. Keeping equipment to a minimum also means fewer labour costs — even more important when a pop-up will require staff to relocate for the duration.

“We bring up a core staff so we know that prep, standards and consistency are met,” say Graham and Smyth.

Local folk are always welcome to lend a hand. “We are always blown away with the interest to come and work with Mary’s for a weekend.”

Staffing and equipment challenges aside, as always, everything the Mary’s gang does is in pursuit of a good time.

“At the very start was all about having a good f*cking time,” say Graham and Smyth. “After years cooking in the dark landscape of Mary’s Newtown, who wouldn’t want to let loose in the Byron sunshine??! The fun is still an overriding factor as we wouldn’t do it if it was a sh*t fight.”

In some cases, business and pleasure are the perfect mix. “The folks at Secret Sounds are an absolute pleasure to work with and have become solid friends of the Mary’s family,” say Graham and Smyth.

The partnership also bolsters the Mary’s brand.

“From a business perspective, the alliance of doing VIP areas at the country’s most revered music festival is definitely something that we feel supports and strengthens our brand. It gives us an opportunity to show those who rarely get to Sydney what it means to eat and party with Mary’s.

“We’re pretty good at giving it a nudge.”

Don’t miss Phil Gannon speak on how products, merchandise and pop-ups can boost your bottom line at the Hospitality Leaders Summit on Monday 29 July at Royal Randwick Racecourse.