Discovering something new in your own back yard at Mr Tucker
Iconic North Melbourne café, Mr Tucker, may be a regular for some locals and at the same time a complete surprise for others.
Tucked away on Melrose St, the seeds of Mr Tucker were sown with a gamble on a hole in the wall commercial vacancy, quickly turning into a North Melbourne institution.
Mr Tucker’s owner, Jacob Stammers, remembers the days of Pocket Café, a little adjunct off Melrose St with capacity for four people inside and 10 outside, with a gleaming smile.
“It was a very risky thing at the time because this strip was full of high-vis filled takeaway shops and that’s about it,” Mr Stammers said.
“Locals seemed to really enjoy what we offered, and we outgrew that space in a couple of years. So, we got our new space just on five years ago which turned into Mr Tucker, and then took over the adjoining shopfront and opened in February.”
From that little corporate lease which fit just 14 patrons, then Pocket Café, and now Mr Tucker, has grown to a capacity of 130 with a fully serviced kitchen open seven days a week, serving brunch from Thursday to Saturday, and a brand-new night-time offering from Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
“The area has been asking for somewhere to come locally to drink and hang out,” Mr Stammers said.
“With the brewery popping up next door, new owners for the kebab shop, a catering business opening soon, and, of course, our new dining offering, there are lots of things happening on Melrose St these days.”
“We have designed a substantial snacking menu from lunch ‘til late, but at 5pm the kitchen opens fully with Sicilian-based pizzas (the sexy big slabs), ricotta gnocchi and some rotating specials; we are going for a bit of an Italian or European vibe.”
Mr Stammers said after a few years which saw businesses leaving the strip, namely the pharmacy and post office, it was spiriting to see Melrose St in a process of revitalisation.
With Twang Brewing, a microbrewery and bar with an in-house brewery system; Mr Gonzo, a quaint Columbian restaurant on the corner of Melrose and Erskine St, and, of course, Mr Tucker, this once-forgotten shopping strip is slowly becoming a food and beverage oasis in the heart of residential North Melbourne.
The challenge Mr Tucker, and Melrose St, faces now, and as it always has, is raising its profile to envelop more than just those locals.
It was a challenge, Mr Stammers said, which would be made much easier by trying to “build this area as a collective,” so much so, he even wrote a letter of support for planning to the City of Melbourne for his new brewing buddies because “this is exactly what this area needs.”
“We have always been determined to be that place where everyone knows your name,” Mr Stammers said.
“It’s the neighbourhood local that people might not have discovered. Everyone that comes through the door enjoys it, but we still have people living a few hundred metres away that haven’t heard of us.”
With a soft opening for dinner dining now complete and a booking system up and firing, Mr Tucker is primed for its next iteration. •
For more information: mrtucker.com.au