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An open-air garden bar and eatery has popped up in Chinatown

Alannah Maher

An old, disused car park in the heart of Little Bourke Street is finding new life as a hip, communal green dining space. The new venue, aptly named Park, is the brainchild of Maz Salt, the owner of Section 8, the quintessentially-Melbourne and hugely popular shipping container bar. 

With the bitumen torn out, ancient soil exposed and native plants and trees moved in in large plant bags, Park is designed to be an island of respite for passing animals, insects, birds and humans alike – inviting people in to eat, drink and socialise. Architects Baracco+Wright approached the space with an intention to disrupt the urban environment and reintroduce the area’s Indigenous plants and wildlife – this is not your ordinary commercial space. 

Park does not come onto the scene without controversy. The venue proposal narrowly got over the line when it was introduced to Melbourne City Council in March, sparking fierce debate over whether its an appropriate addition to the historic precinct, which is Australia’s oldest Chinatown. 

Park is a new venue disrupting Little Bourke Street

Photograph: Rory Gardiner

Park’s food and wine have a hyper-local and sustainable focus, everything that comes in is made in Melbourne and fully compostable. In terms of tipple there’s an assortment of local craft beers, wine and organic soft drinks from StrangeLove. Coffee comes from Brunswick's Founder Coffee Co. The initial food offerings include pies from Footscray pastry-slingers Pie Thief, and there’s a view to expand to charcuterie boards and more elaborate offerings. 

With a three-year lease just begun, it is yet to be seen if this venue goes the way of Section 8 and the pop-up venue becomes a permanent fixture.

Park is located at 132-140 Little Bourke Street, on the corner of Corrs Lane (home of Berlin Bar and Fad Gallery). It is now open from 8am-11pm Sunday to Wednesday, and 8am-1am Thursday to Saturday. 

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