Small businesses are the backbone of any community – so it helps when they also provide some of the best food, fashion and flowers in town. In partnership with Xero, here’s a handful of top-notch locals worth tracking down.
Yes, Brisbane has the Olympics (in 2032, anyway) but there’s a lot more to the city than glitzy events and glamorous views.
Its CBD is home to a diverse array of businesses run by talented artists and artisans, passionate sole traders, and seasoned entrepreneurs. Supporting these small businesses is more important than ever in the present moment of pandemic-induced uncertainty.
Here’s five that help make Brisbane and its surrounds the lively place it is to live, work and visit.
Alice Veivers is the talented designer behind Alice Nightingale, an ethical fashion label based in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. Veivers, who started Alice Nightingale after completing a degree in fashion design in 2009, creates handmade and small-batch clothing and accessories using second-hand, vintage and locally produced fabrics. Her distinctive designs, often limited to runs of 10 or fewer, are the antithesis of mass-produced disposable fashion. Veivers also runs classes in her California Lane store where students can learn to crochet granny squares or weave earrings under her expert tutelage – and in good company. Visit her bricks-and-mortar store in the Valley or browse the Alice Nightingale range, which includes boiler suits, beanies, bucket hats and the pandemic’s must-have accessory – masks – online.
This riverside eatery is located in Brisbane’s Howard Smith Wharves, a refurbished entertainment precinct under the iconic Story Bridge. With Yoko Dining, restaurateur Jonathan Barthelmess has created a buzzing two-storey venue that pays tribute to Tokyo’s famed music bars and izakayas; a natural progression from his Cho Cho San joint in Sydney. Upstairs, turntables and an extensive vinyl collection take pride of place. The clever bento-box-inspired fit-out is the work of Barthelmess’s long-time friend and collaborator, designer George Livissianis, whose liberal use of yellow and pops of neon help create Yoko’s signature retro-futurist atmosphere.
In the kitchen, chef Kitak Lee (ex-Momofuku Seiobo, Cho Cho San) presides over the hibachi – a Japanese charcoal grill – and an experimental menu that puts a singular spin on Japanese classics. Expect dishes such as the spicy Japanese bolognaise, grilled prawns with kombu butter and miso chicken with mustard leaf. The drinks list covers all bases: cocktails; red, white, sparkling, rosé and orange wines; a mix of Japanese and Australian beers; and, as you’d expect, a comprehensive offering of premium sake and Japanese spirits. If you’re after a delicious alcohol-free beverage, try the Tropical Highball, a punchy concoction of ginger, yuzu, passionfruit and soda.
Next door to Yoko Dining at Howard Street Wharves is another renowned Barthelmess venue, Greca, a 210-seat riverside Greek taverna spread over two levels. Barthelmess applies the same winning formula at Greca that has made The Apollo in Sydney and its Tokyo outpost so successful: modern Greek cuisine in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. The fit-out features Hellenic blue and white with accents of blond timber and the green of olive trees. An alfresco section makes the most of the view over the Brisbane River. The menu features the greatest hits of Greek cuisine – taramasalata, saganaki, spanakopita and moussaka – alongside meat and seafood cooked on a charcoal grill in the open kitchen. The extensive wine list features drops from Australia and Greece, as well as France, Italy and Spain.
Ella O’Shea from Yukari Botanicals creates wild and romantic floral arrangements for weddings and events in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Byron Bay. She takes inspiration from seasonal landscapes, often foraging for unusual botanicals. Yukari Botanicals’ bouquets and arrangements have featured in magazines like Hello May, Together Journal and A Darling Affair. Scroll through O’Shea’s beautiful creations on Instagram at @yukaribotanicals or order your next floral arrangement via her website.
Claire Ritchie is a Brisbane-based artist who creates bold and bright illustrations inspired by nature. Filled with flowers, foliage and rainbows, her designs exude joy. If her colourful prints seem familiar, it could be because you’ve spied them on Kleenex boxes, Hey Tiger chocolate wrappers or Barrow Boy beer cans. The artist also contributed three prints to Gorman Playground’s Winter ’20 collection for kids and is a previous Finders Keepers stallholder. Visit Ritchie’s online store to peruse her range of wall hangings, prints, greeting cards, pillows, kitchen towels, socks and bags.
Photography: Courtesy of Yoko Dining / Dean Swindell