Small bar chain gathering speed

30 July, 2012 by

By Sacha Delfosse

Sydney's Li'l Darlin Group has developed a food and beverage offer that is proving to be quite successful, with three venues opening their doors in under 12 months and all showing steady growth and strong trade.

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The first Li'l Darlin venue opened in Darlinghurst in September last year. Six months later the team acquired The Stoned Crow in Crows Nest, which they refurbished and relaunched in February this year.

A second Li'l Darlin opened its doors at The Spot in Randwick late in April, and a third is currently under construction in Surry Hills, set to open in mid-September.

The group is run by four partners, all with ample hospitality experience, including general manger Arik Shifroni, who has been running restaurants and hotels for over 30 years.

The group have built their offer around a concept that Shifroni, and his partners have labelled "restau’bar", which mixes elements from bars and restaurants, including table service, casual dining, signature cocktails, unique pizzas and shared plates. [continues below]

The interior of Li'l Darlin at Darlinghurst

"We deliver great food and beverages with good value and service, which is why we have been successful. It's a place were we want people to come one to three times a week to relax, and enjoy themselves," Shifroni said.

"Knowing your demographic is important… the core offer is the same but about 10 per cent of the offer is different according to the location and demographic."

A key aspect of the venues' offering is a selection of signature cocktails, mainly aimed at the large female clientele.

"70 per cent of our clientele are females, so most of our cocktails are served in Martini glasses and are very girly. Cocktails cost between $15 and $17 and are all unique to our venue – to go to the next level you need your own signature cocktails."

Shifroni said the success of this concept demonstrates that in the current economic climate people want "dining with value for money", with quick service and food and drinks of a high standard.

He said the ultimate plan is to open 15 to 20 Li’l Darlins.

"It is a challenge, because we are strict with our offer and our products. [But] we are always on the lookout for good locations."