Torquay is a destination for tens of thousands of travellers every year as they start their excursion down the world famous Great Ocean Road.
Trading Plates stopped in for a steak, beer and chat with Zeally’s Bar and Grill owner John Brian to discuss what it’s like owning an establishment in the seaside tourist town.
“It’s a challenge at times and amazing how much the weather can affect the business,” says Brian.
Brian explains that weekends and Friday nights are obviously always the busiest times.
“Between summer and winter the town is drastically different, many establishments have become seasonal as it’s simply not worth staying open during those long winter months when the town shrinks in size.
“You have a juggling act between staff as the weather can be the difference between 15 people walking through the doors and 150. If I have on three staff out front and three in the kitchen you can imagine that 15 people coming in the doors really isn’t going to pay my bills.”
The Menu at Zeally’s is best described as hearty pub food with generous portions and plenty of local taste. Located on Torquay’s famous esplanade the views across the road are very enjoyable while you sip on a beer and get stuck into a meal.
“I’ve been living in Torquay for about six years now and have seen plenty of change,” Brian continues.
“It’s become a lot trendier with new cafés opening up every year and competition for the tourist dollar is at an all-time high.
Being a grill, Zeally’s are best known for their steak. Their grade one premium 300g Scotch Fillet, which is chargrilled to your liking, is the signature cut of meat. The surf ‘n’ turf also utilizes the same steak, topped off with prawn cutlets and a garlic white wine sauce.
“Another big issue that comes with the weather is keeping your produce fresh. If the weather man forecasts a beautiful day we might order in 80 cuts of meat then the day turns out to be a shocker so produce can just end up in the bin,” says Brian.
“We pride ourselves on only serving the freshest food and best cuts of meat, so it can be frustrating when your primed for a big night of service, only for the rain to come in at 4pm and send everyone scattering for their cars.”
“Torquay is only an hour from Melbourne, so plenty of patrons may only come for the day and stay for a feed if the sun is out, but when the clouds come, many just choose the highway back to Melbourne and eat at home.”
When asked about his favourite item on the menu, Brian has to go with the Chicken Brie Burger.
”I love that burger even though it is simple. Just a marinated chicken breast then we serve it with Brie cheese, guacamole, pesto and lettuce. It just works when I’m really hungry and hits the spot!”
Zeally’s Bar & Grill is well worth a visit next time you’re road tripping along the Great Ocean Road.
35 The Esplanade, Torquay VIC 3228
(03) 5261 3492