Sydney bowls clubs reinventing themselves as foodie destinations
If you think world-class dining and lawn bowls are poles apart then think again, as Grant Jones reports for the Daily Telegraph .
Some of our best-loved green-turfed clubs sit in prime positions and while many venues in the past have succumbed to developers, other club boards are now taking a proactive approach and reinventing themselves as food and beverage destinations — with a little barefoot bowls on the side.
“Bowling clubs seems to be in such awesome places, and I’m actually quite surprised that no one has thought about doing it before this,” says Lilly Fasan (formerly of The Grounds of Alexandria) who has just taken over North Sydney Bowling Club, which has been renamed The Greens.
Fun times at The Greens. Picture: Supplied.
Last week when Harbord Diggers announced that the development application for its grand $160m redevelopment plans had been approved. Part of the plan is to resume two existing greens for development but surround the remaining half green with restaurants to take in views of the northern beaches.
“The design is integrating the headland into the development rather than plonking it on top and the second thing that is really important is that the club hospitality and other club community offers are at the heart of this development and are offered the very best views,” says development manager Lee Tinder.
“It will be facing north so food and beverage captures the view, so it’s really doing what anyone else would do in food and beverage if you had such a great site. Many clubs are repositioning themselves on food. It’s essential to the clientele and essential to keeping your membership relevant.”
An artist impression of the Harbord Diggers redevelopment. Picture: Supplied.
Tinder says the approach the club will take in food and beverage offerings will differ from other clubs in that they will seek a mix of third-party and in-house options, across a range of styles, to encourage new members while maintaining existing ones.
“Our intention is to have a range of club-operated food and beverage together with a range of restaurateurs,” he says. “The whole idea is that you have to cater for the breadth in the community, and the community now has much higher aspirations, in part, for quality food and the range of quality food, plus you need to look after the core of your membership together with your new membership.”
While bowlo club revenue from membership and pokies has been in decline, food may be the saviour for many suburban bowling clubs.
“Clubs can’t just be focused on one sector, they have to be ranging their food and beverage offering much more broadly,” Tinder says.
Whole baby snapper for two from The Greens at North Sydney. Picture: John Fotiadis.
The Greens has been reinvented as a neighbourhood eatery, bar, cafe and courtyard with kitchen garden, plus bowling green, all with spectacular views of Sydney Harbour.
Lilly and husband Nathan Fasan have created an uncomplicated menu, alongside her own home-made chutneys, jams and pickled vegetables.
“I think we are trying to recreate a new presence in bowling clubs. Nobody seemed to be taking advantage of the locations,” she says.
“I think we are trying to get a bit of a younger crowd, trying to be a little bit creative but still be quite simple and attractive to most people.”
Since the launch late last month, they have been inundated for their lunch, dinner and snacks menu, which is split into small share plates, mains and larger share dishes
“I do firmly believe in not playing around with ingredients too much and have respect for fine ingredients and treat it well and people will appreciate it on the plate,” she says. “It’s a mix of something new in the north side and also the amazing location and also the skills that my husband and I bring from The Grounds, the reputation that we’ve got …