Your name is Bob Murphy, and the year is 1988.
You work an office job, you’re in sales. You do alright – enough to put food on the table for your wife and kids. And what delicious food it is, the wife’s always telling you. Especially your seafood. Let’s not be modest, Bob, you’ve had a way with prawns ever since your dad taught you how to peel a prawn by hand, even if it was just so he wouldn’t have to do it for you anymore. You picked it up straight away, and sure, you might get a cut or two every now and then, but they’re prickly little buggers at the best of times.
No one ever winds up spitting out bones when they eat your whiting, do they Bob? Not like that Mother’s Day at Doyles when your mum almost choked to death. Remember, you screamed for the manager, and your face went red! Your wife was a little bit scared that day, although she never told you. You have to learn to keep your temper in check, Bob. It’ll be the end of you.
Sales is a boring job when you’re the best. You’re so good that you wound up convincing HR to let you work from home, and your figures were too valuable to the company for them to say no. So you spend all your days fishing and cooking while occasionally stopping to rack up another few grand. How does it make you feel? Do you ever compare yourself to anyone bigger, or can’t you think of anyone? Remember that time you were bragging to your mates about it during that Saturday arvo barbecue, and Trev, the one who isn’t doing so well, went home sick? Did your wife ever tell you that Trev’s wife called to say he’d tried to top himself that night, or do you still think you gave him food poisoning? Not with your oysters, Bob. They’re too good.
You’ve always had that dream, though. You never let yourself really consider it until now, but every now and then you’d entertain the thought of running your own restaurant…just to see. Just to put the hard word on Doyles and the like, to say ‘we in the west can do it better than you’. Be a shame if you stuffed it up, though. You’d fall flat on your face. And they’re not as refined in the west, are they? Don’t appreciate a good lobster mornay as much as they do on the coast or down south? There are a lot of things to consider, Bob. If you’re gonna picture yourself in the chef’s hat, just make sure you take the time to think it all through.
Still got your eye on that spot on Canterbury Road? It’s not the most perfect location, is it? You drive past it whenever you’ve gotta go into the office or do a face to face with a client. It’s nice that you still give them a fish from time to time. Cute calling card. The Canterbury Road spot though…it’s risky. If you open too early, no one’ll be able to get a park because of all the trucks, and if you stay open too late you’ll attract the hookers and the tricks. Don’t you want it to be family friendly? Maybe if you do it up right, get the right colour…
Cute name, Bob: ‘Out of the Blue’ Seafood Restaurant. And ‘into the red’ not long after, I’ll bet? Sorry, Bob, couldn’t resist…you’re really serious about this, aren’t you? Oh no, you shouldn’t quit your day job. You really shouldn’t. But if you’re going to make a proper go of this cooking thing, you might need the time. It’s called work from home, not work from work. ‘Out of the Blue’…you’re going to paint it blue?That shade of blue? Christ, it’ll look like a theme restaurant! This location really isn’t very good, you know. I hope it was cheap enough. Oh…that much, huh? You might make that back…give it a few years. No restaurant makes megabucks from the start, Bob, you must have known that. Did you do any research? That burger place that sold dog food was just up the road there, people might think it’s your place. Mud sticks…
Wow, you really went the whole hog, didn’t you Bob? A total nautical theme! You know how silly that thing looks, right? Yeah, yeah, it’s all a part of the gimmick. Are you gonna be wearing a sailor’s hat and a peg leg while you cook, too? I’m guessing you anchored this thing deep, what if it blows over? Hurricane-proof, huh? Nice.
I’ll be honest, Bob: that paint looks way less garish now that it’s actually on. You want to make sure it’ll last a while too, nothing worse than a half-assed job. You’ve spent all this money so far, you have to make sure you leave your mark on this place. Get the most out of that paint too, put it everywhere. You bought too much! You’ll never be out of this blue, so go nuts and slap it on everywhere. Don’t let ’em forget where they are.
Well, good luck with it mate. I’m allergic, so I won’t be eating there, but I’m sure you’ll do fine. All the guys at work miss you, even though you were never in the office. They miss having that hard target to match. Dudley’s the top dog now, and he’s nowhere. This place…it’s a little rough isn’t it? Good thing you got so much of that paint left, this graffiti’ll be easy to cover over. You know, now that that Dunlop factory up the road’s gone you might have a harder time getting people in here… Okay, okay! No need to raise your voice! I’m sure you’ll be fine, once they hear about how good your food is, you’ll be fine. You open soon, right? What’s left to do? Just the licence? Okay Bob, all the best. Let me know how it goes.
Let’s go back to the early 1990s, when someone had a bright idea: ‘How about a series of 50s-style Americana-filled burger restaurants…in Sydney!’ If that sounds stupid, that’s because it is. Hungry Jacks had been trying for years to evoke thatHappy Days flavour, but it just wasn’t washing with the Whopper-eating public. HJ has quietly phased out the Americana over the last ten years, but it’s not uncommon to walk in and find pictures of Elvis and Marilyn adorning the walls, a jukebox in the corner and fries so stale they could only be from 1958. The mastermind behind Route 66 had clearly decided that HJ wasn’t going far enough, and launched the above restaurant at Revesby around 1994. It wasn’t some Mickey Mouse venture, either – there were TV ads imploring hungry viewers to ‘get their kicks’. Within the impressively chromed exterior, girls in miniskirts served up grilled burgers, fries and shakes to patrons amid 50s tunes and checkered floors, while outside the owners hoped to recreate the burger joint atmosphere by providing plenty of parking and a drive-thru service. By all accounts the burgers weren’t bad, but one of the many mistakes the owners made was setting up shop across the road from an infinitely more accessible McDonald’s. Route 66 sits along Canterbury Road, with customers forced to enter and exit via the busy thoroughfare. The customers didn’t take long to work out that it was easier to get into the McDonald’s, and by 2000 the Route 66 dream was over. There were a few Route 66 locations beside this one, but I’m not sure whether they were all part of the same franchise or not. Prestons featured a notorious Route 66 for many years, where hoons really did congregate en masse, much to residents’ discontent.
After Route 66 bit the dust, the site played host to a variety of Lebanese restaurants, all forced to wear the chrome. Today, the chrome is as shiny as ever outside Hadla Ice Confectionery. All of the post-Route 66 ventures to inhabit the place tried and failed to disguise the 50s decor (Hadla’s come the closest), but if you didn’t remember what it was, you probably wouldn’t question it. The only real evidence that Route 66 was ever here is the drive-thru…
…which is now closed off, and has been cleverly converted into an outdoorish seating area for Hadla customers. It’s still chromed up to the max, and gives you a clear idea of what Route 66’s drive-thru customers must have endured in the restaurant’s tireless efforts to send you back to 1955 (maybe they should have had an 88mph speed limit for the drive-thru?). Seeing places like this always makes me wonder about the people who would have worked there – young girls and guys paying their way through uni or getting some extra cash to save up for a car while in high school. I wonder if they look back on their days at Route 66 fondly, or whether those few months or years have been wiped from the resume. I wonder what the owners are doing now, how they must have felt when the writing was on the wall, and if they ever drive past and think about the happy days. The quest to inspire nostalgia in others has become nostalgia in itself.
If you have any stories to share about this place, I’d be fascinated to hear them.
Don’t let the graffiti, overgrown weeds and the video shop sign fool you – this location is still in operation as a video shop. But it’s a video shop…WITH A SECRET.
Despite being bright purple, you don’t look too out of place, Network Video. You’ve got a disabled ramp there, a big carpark…strange roof you’ve got there, though. Looks like you, uh, added on the part of the building to the right of this picture much later. You know, the part without that…funny looking roof… Anyway, you mind if I have a look around the back?
Gee, that’s a hell of a thing. Your wall there, Network Video…it’s taller than your roof. Now why would you design it like that? And you don’t look so purple back there. It’s brick… Ah, it’s probably nothing. Just my mind playing tricks. Maybe you were a house once, that wouldn’t be so special. Okay, thanks for your time, I’ll get outta your hair. Take it easy.
Oh, just one more thing. Can I have a look around the other side, between the building and the fence?
Continuing in the series of Pizza Hut restaurants around Sydney, today we find Revesby’s former Pizza Hut restaurant converted into an Olsens funeral home. Pizza Hut would have closed around 1999, so this has been there for awhile. The roof is starting to lose its green, with the former red paint clearly visible from the street. So too the door handle:
As we’ll soon discover as we continue exploring the repurposing of old Pizza Huts, this one is up there with the strangest. I wonder if they kept the oven?