Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ford Motor Company

Pardon me if I have missed the point but I thought Australia gave Ford Motor Company umpteen million dollars in exchange for longevity, new models and the creation of about 300 jobs – post GFC.  A contract. Now we believe our money went to the United States to prop up their ailing head office and Ford in Australia are downsizing and shedding some 330 jobs – a 600 job differential. Maybe I am being too simple but as a taxpayer, I want my money back for breach of contract and/ or perhaps a lien on the factory with a view to calling in the loan and installing someone good at crisis management – say for instance Jeff Kennett who is a proven whiz bang at pulling our State out of financial disaster.
Ford are obviously producing cars that few people want and they must have ignored their own market research to do that.  Why do we as taxpayers have to pay for this mis-management?
I know we have a Labour Government who is desperate to be seen keeping people in work but where do we draw the line. It seems we have paid millions to lose 600 jobs.  I just don’t understand.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Julia the liar and Tony the misogynist

Clearly, the behaviour exhibited by our Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and their respective Ministers is unacceptable in any civilised, educated or social environment. As a collective they have lost any rational ability to debate, conciliate or create positive change. The mark of a child learning to argue or debate is for them to attack the person when losing the argument instead of focusing on the issue at hand. Our leaders have obviously reverted to child-like behaviours and, to be honest, it is quite sad.
Julia the liar or Tony the misogynist is irrelevant when it comes to running our country. In the first instance, the ground shifts in the real world and previously correct decisions become incorrect. In the second, it is painfully obvious that Tony is not a woman hater. Yet both sides continue to attack the other’s moral attributes in order, I presume, to gain brownie points from the unthinking. The media then fan the flames and the dropkick minority sense a spotlight moment and exacerbate the personal attacks. Q&A Monday week ago was a prime example of a vocal minority out of control.
If we respected everyone and everything without rancour we would not have this dysfunctional parliament and we would not have malcontents like Alan Jones feeding the frenzy to those incapable of sustained rational thought.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Response – ‘Heads on a platter’ by Colman Andrews and ‘It’s a tough job ...’ by Joanna Saville and ‘Food critic’s demise’ by Suzanne Carbonne.

Tuesday’s Epicure in the Age September 25 2012 and Wednesday’s Age in Entertainment 26th September 2012.

It is indeed a pity when self-devotion to the aggrandisement of the self proclaimed professional restaurant critic’s expertise [apologies to Dickens] is toppled by Joe the blogger blob. Food reviewers are crying foul as their level of self proclaimed importance and vitriol is replaced by the equally self proclaimed but now collective vitriol of the unsworn albeit anonymous masses. For years so called food writers have survived on sensation and the negative such as demonstrated by the dubious literary eulogies of ‘Close ‘em down Downs’ [Stephen Downs – since fired] or the recent court case against a Sydney newspaper when they had to pay out millions because of a ‘review’ [Mathew Evans – no longer reviewing] which closed a restaurant. Something about the pot calling the kettle black comes to mind.
If nothing else the Evans case solidified defamation and liable laws where food writers and I suspect bloggers can not just wax lyrical with impunity from their own egomanic distortions of the real world. Say or write something untrue and the doo doo bucket just got deeper. We, the beleaguered restaurateurs, have a precedent!
Coleman Andrews said in his article, “We have to write better and more intelligently...” when referring to bloggers as competition. May I ask, “Why hasn’t this been a guiding principle for any article written about anything, ever?”
We own two restaurants and suffer the same indignities by food writers and bloggers as everyone else yet we still enjoy blogger ratings of 92% and 73% which, in the first case, outranks nearly all the hatted restaurants for a dining experience. We have had extremely negative blogger reviews removed from Google and Urban Spoon from people who never dined at either restaurant - having to do this really sucks. A published review on one of our restaurants a couple of years ago castigated us when the reviewer made some ‘interesting’ claims about a piece of metal the size of a kitchen knife left in his meal but post publication refused to provide any evidence preferring to hide behind a legal wall [He has just been given the flick from The Herald Sun]. Fortunately, after nine years, our business is strong and it made no difference but I wonder what would have happened to a new venture?. If we had a legal precedent then, all would have been different. The key change is that food writers can no longer say what they feel like and feed the malcontents in print just to sell papers. It got harder. The same publisher as the ‘metal in the food’ review named us as one of Melbourne’s best restaurants just two weeks later. Doesn’t say much for ‘professional’ food writers me thinks.
The problem for a reviewer and indeed any ‘food guide’ publication is that bloggers are finding the cracks. If a reviewer gives a restaurant two hats but the blogger collective gives them a mediocre score then who is right? If democracy is alive and well then the bloggers must be heard and perhaps the hat system needs to be revised to remove inconsistencies.
As a restaurateur, my challenge is to provide a ‘product’ consisting of the design of a space where people want to be, service which surpasses expectations and food aimed squarely at our target markets. Add on to that, making a profit and getting time enough to play golf and go on one of those strange things called, holidays.
A ‘reviewer’ [as distinct from a blogger] needs a proven level of expertise, relevant qualifications and must be prepared to take responsibility as does a ‘trouble shooter’ or a ‘consultant’ for what they do. It is not good enough to just feed the face and pontificate in print when the reviewer can destroy a new business costing ‘someone else’ their invested capital whilst they retain their impunity and ignore contributing factors.
The blogger will be with us forever but hopefully will be seen as the uneducated and unprofessional opinion albeit, an extremely important opinion as our efforts as restaurateurs are laid bare by their comments and, others of like mind will listen and make decisions based on those bloggs. The challenge is to remove comments by bloggers of low intelligence or whom have not raised themselves above toilet humour or who think that writing something nasty will bring them closer to nirvana. The answer is that we can’t remove them in total but we must make sure the idiots are seen as idiots and we must also make sure everyone realises that bloggs are manipulated by people seeking advantage – like advertising the more money you spend the greater the impact.
The way to do this is to make sure future professional reviewers are and are seen to be expert, above complicit activity [see article on Downes by Suzanne Carbonne in The Age September 26th] and support restaurateurs, not destroy them [see Coco Roco Vs Mathew Evans].
The newspapers and glossies like Gourmet Traveller along with the rest of us are subject to pressure by media marketing companies and it really is a joke the amount of free publicity some people receive before opening, during opening and post opening their next big foodie venture [see Epicure and Gourmet Traveller current editions]. Or indeed, how the level of advertising in a particular publication translates into positive publicity or the level of kickbacks taken to give a positive review [see article by Suzanne Carbonne].
The reviewer must rise above this underworld of kick-backs, bribery and bulsch [euphemistic interpretation of doo doo] to become a guiding light - not a ‘critic’ but a professional ‘reviewer’. Not a reporter but a journalist with opinions based on expertise, qualifications and a recognisable face. Just saying you have eaten out for 20 years therefore you are a qualified reviewer is not good enough. This is blogger territory.
We don’t need the vitriol, we need reviewers who are seen as honest but supportive and delve into why a particular restaurant is doing what they are doing. The blogger doesn’t give a toss other than what’s put in front of them and neither they should as their experience is one dimensional. [But that singular view is of enormous importance because they are our clients and like it or not they will have very valid opinions albeit not necessarily right.]
The reviewer on the other hand must be ‘three’ dimensional and above the underworld of the holier than thou’s.
Sorry but I’m on a roll now – personally, as restaurateurs, we don’t pretend to offer multi-hat cuisine [with one cook/dishwasher it’s impossible] but we do offer reasonable food, great atmosphere and service. We rank at 93% on blog sites which means 93 people out of 100 liked our total product and had a great experience. Our ‘blogger’ reviews are for the most part,sensational and we are full most of the time. This is despite Mr Downes and despite the fact that neither of our restaurants has featured in any Good Food Guide [nine plus years in business] and we have no media company selling us and we do not give kickbacks and we do not advertise and we grudgingly welcome bloggers.
This is what the reviewer needs to focus on, a total product but from a professional point of view. It’s not all about the food! It’s about an individual restaurateur’s investment in a great experience and the review must be cognisant of the hopes and dreams and indeed strategies of all the people involved in the restaurant.
Let’s take the review up the food chain a few notches! [pun intended].

Jon Langevad MBA
Director Cafe Dansk Pty Limited
Trading as:
Mon Ami Restaurant & Gallery - 144 Nicholson Fitzroy 94173220
Deco Bistro - 49 Beach Street Port Melbourne 96461101
Langhill Consulting -
Jon Langevad Photography –

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


With the ratification of Fair Work Australia’s award system, pricing for coffee will have to alter.
Now follow carefully.
A normal coffee served Monday to Friday between 7am and 10pm will be $3.80 with a wage component of $1.20. However if that coffee is served after 10pm then add 12c to make it $3.92 and if served after 12 midnight add another 5% or 18c to make the price $3.98.
But, if that coffee is served on Saturday add 30c to give a total of $4.10 and $4.25 and $4.55 for service times from 10pm to 12 midnight and 12 midnight to 7am respectively.
For Sunday add 60c making the normal coffee $4.40 with time allowances altering the price to $4.58 and $4.87 respectively.
Be prepared with your credit card for public holidays because the new price of coffee will be $5.60 plus allowances for times making the sell price $5.90 and $6.05.
Now for each of those prices we need to add meal allowance, uniform allowance and a split shift allowance but as these will be venue specific we cannot include it albeit be prepared to add 23c for a meal allowance, 11c for a spit shift and another 5c for uniform.
Therefore a cup of coffee will now be priced between $3.80 and $6.44 to keep in line with the wage structure Fair Work Australia had deemed appropriate.
We are a God fearing Christian country celebrating Sunday as a day of rest and penalising those nefarious and pesky coffee shops and indeed their errant heathen customers for serving anything outside of the church’s reflective hours. Sorry about you Jews but you only get minor penalties, not the full bottle Christian penalties. Also sorry, but the rest of you minor God people don’t score penalties unless they happen to fall on Saturday or Sunday. If they do, then feel free to claim them as your own. Pity about all the other religions; casualty of God’s wage war I suppose.
Please ignore the cost of administering this system as you will end up paying for it anyway by one means or another. Sorry about that but we believe in really complicated wage systems designed to ruin weekend business, destroy tourism and limit casual employment to Christian God fearing hours.
Jon Langevad
Deco Bistro Port Melbourne

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Well not quite, but just as rare.

After two years of aggressive lobbying by Jon Langevad, the City of Port Phillip has DROPPED parking rates for the Port Melbourne tourist precinct between Bay Street and Melbourne’s international sea gateway, Station Pier.

Deep breath.

“This is probably the first time in at least 2000 years a local council has actually reduced fees and watch this space because Port Melbourne beachfront is going to be dragged out of a ‘who cares’ mindset into a place of action, history and excitement”, said Jon Langevad.

“This is a huge mindset step forward for Port Phillip Council as they have finally recognised parking is actually provided to attract destination visitors but if they jack the fees too high revenue decreases because people avoid the area. In the past Council implemented fees to “dissuade” tourists and destination visitors, but now they have seen the light and recognise the importance of making this fabulous ‘tourist’ area approachable and affordable.”

Being slightly pushy and somewhat tenacious Mr Langevad invited his local member, the Premier and two of his Ministers to join him with the Port of Melbourne Corporation and the Council along with Arts Victoria and NGV to create something special for Melbourne as part of an open development team. So far Martin Foley [MP] has been very supportive as has Stephen Bradford [CEO PoMc] and now Kay Rundle [CEO Port Phillip] seems to be also of like train of thought.

“To be fair, the Council has had a great urban design framework for the area for years but unfortunately it seems to have been filed under ‘too hard’”. Mr Langevad also said, “We need to make sure the shame that is Princes Pier does not repeat itself by bringing all the design parties together into one space to deal openly with the opportunities.”

He also said, “This stretch of beach could rival Rio or Antigua or any number of great tourist destinations not to mention San Francisco or indeed those strange northerners, Sydney people and their harbour.”

The impetus for change has been created and the first results are in.

“We need to keep it going”.

Jon Langevad

Director Café Dansk Pty Limited trading as Deco Bistro 49 Beach Street Port Melbourne.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dear Mr Age and Ms Rinehart,

I want to thank you both for deeming such a wonderfully inclement morning on Sunday past.  We raised the blind on rain, sleet and darkish cold yet remained closeted within a tunnel of yummy down.  We just added a steaming cup of tea and Saturday’s Age.  Heaven.

My first lecturer at university some 40 years ago told us on day one that “We at Melbourne University read the Age” implying that other papers were not up to the same level of either reporting or journalism.  This has stuck as has an innate desire to wrestle with the glorious broadsheet format where there is lots of stuff on a page.  It does challenge the slightly pulpy Sunday morning brain by requiring some degree of dedication and indeed alacrity to manage the size but it’s well worth the two hour effort!  We read reports about happenings all over the world, dribbled over a few cars, scan read the ads and stuff of lesser interest,  went travelling all over the place and really enjoyed some of the authored and journalistic pieces [Tony Wright is always great].

We regret running out of reading. 

The instant-news ‘android-tablet’ reader will never understand nor will they understand that the world would be a poorer place without broadsheets.

We even read about Ms Rinehart and her rising angst against The Age.  I find her motives confusing as I find the Board’s response bemusing. Still, far be it from me to understand the thought processes of the billionaires or the power struggles surrounding boardroom martini machinations.

There are too many numbers to ignore the fact that print media is in some degree of doo doo and indeed fairly obvious that not enough has changed in The Age to remedy dropping [sic] relevance for a changing market.

All of us want instant news.  Simple fact. 

Therefore it would seem relevant and appropriate to meet those reporting needs as well as the needs of people who care about the stuff behind the clinical reports.  Perhaps there is an answer to meet both markets head on whilst retaining much sought after integrity.

However and firstly, get over the notion of journalistic integrity while you have sub-editors concocting by-lines designed to excite and amaze instead of just identifying a story and, journalists who are actually human with real feelings and opinions.

Hence the difference between reporters and journalists.  Reporters scribe what’s happened and journalists tell us why it’s happened.  Add on an editor or two with a political persuasion and it becomes obvious that journalistic integrity is what the paper wants it to be.  But note, this is a good thing because without ‘human’ journalists with a brain we sneak back to 1984 and big brother.

But, Mr Age and Ms Rinehart, perhaps there is a way forward.

Imagine our beautiful broadsheet with masthead oozing integrity and editorial insight with page one dedicated to the big stories continued by a journalist within the paper on page ‘x’.  I personally would love to see the beginnings of an editorial on the front page about the lead story by one of the aforementioned egomanic journalists. 

Mr Age, feed my brain, create thought, enable debate.  Even with my Sunday morning pulpy brain I want to be challenged.

But the big change would be pages 2 and 3.  I believe both these pages should be dedicated to android phone sized reporting with a photo and say 200 words.  Instant news for the masses, similar to the existing ‘World Tour’ on page 14, and in a format which would zip straight onto a phone or tablet.  Both markets in one hit and at the front of the paper.  A perfect example could be the lead story ‘Mega Failure’ from last Saturday.  The ‘report’ states the facts but it would also be fascinating for a journalist to write something on just why a foreign agency was allowed into NZ to raid a property and take documents out of the country; with the help of local police.   Last line of the report – “go to page 17 for Tony Wright’s analysis”.
Pages 4 through ‘x’ would be dedicated to this sort of real journalism, to appeal to the rest of Melbourne.  A newspaper with class, insight and integrity and one that is relevant to gen ‘x’ and us baby boomers. 

Advertisements are good on a number of levels but keep them separate from journalism and no ads on pages 1, 2 or 3.  In terms of ads, we personally  do not have a ‘No junk mail’ sticker on our letterbox because we want to know what’s happening out there, who is offering what and if there is anything we would like to take advantage of.  Same for The Age.  Look at the Office Works ad and be amazed at the tumbling cost of external hard drives or ogle yet another Persian Rug closing down sale or peruse an ad for a new chairperson at The Age [sic] or contemplate a job leading the Melbourne Writers Festival.  All interesting and informative.

For the weekend, throw in the add-ons such as Drive, Travel, GW and all the rest but perhaps go back to broadsheet because if nothing else, it’s a point of difference and for deities’ sake it’s a ‘newspaper’ and meant to be devoured and thrown away post doo doo wrapping.  It’s cheap, nasty, supports thousands of jobs in a sustainable logging industry, reports the facts but also creates angst, enables debate, is opinionated and embodies what makes Australia great. 

My personal opinion of Alan Jones is not very high nor do I agree with Andrew Bolt a lot of the time and I am sad to see Michelle Grattan confuse facts with journalism as a labour party pillar.  But I am not a complete idiot and can see through the verbiage and can make up my own mind as long as reporting is separated from journalism.  A really good example is Jon Faine on Aunty of a morning.  He barely keeps his own feelings under wraps at times when dealing with guests and callers yet, manages to seem unbiased, fair and engenders an intelligent response.  Every now and again he goes a little berserk and that’s good.  His ego as a thinking human being lurches to his mouth.  Unfortunately, with other radio hosts and politicians the connection between brain and mouth is somewhat challenged.

Perhaps, The Age can help bring people to task and engender a new level of intellectual discussion.  Tony Windsor’s comment when referring to the leader of  our alternative federal government as a “rabid dog” during a walk through interview at some airport is appalling and shows a level of disrespect which has no place in our society.  Jones’ comment about our PM and a hessian bag shows what type of person he is – one to be ignored.   Respect is not earned, it is a God given right.

Ms Rinehart, perhaps your rather direct approach might just be seen as threatening to a bunch of egomanic journalists trying to ply their ‘throw away trade’?  Personally, I love ego as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.  Indeed, without ego, we are merely cadavers. 

The Age IS Melbourne and its intellectualism has benefited our great city for a long long time. 
We need to keep cognisance of falling standards and our heritage.  It’s too easy to spiral into the ‘oh well’ syndrome where all is seen as lost and there is nothing we can do so, let’s have another beer and celebrate our shiny new tablets for what they can do but perhaps not for what they are capable of challenging us with. ‘Look, how exciting, a new app to sort out our sock drawer’.

Sunday morning in bed is great with The Age but, in our case, we need two front sections.  At the moment he or she who wakes first wins the battle. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

An open letter to the Premier of Victoria about Port Melbourne

“Port Melbourne has no soul, why would you go there?” [Overheard from a not so potential tourist]

The Premier

Dear Premier Baillieu,

Please read the following and please don’t fob it off to some paper shuffler whose only objective is to avoid communication and actually doing something. As Leader, Minister for the Arts and an architect please make this happen.

Summary The less than 1km stretch of Beach Street and Waterfront Place between Bay Street and Princes pier including Station pier is a disgrace to Melbourne. Just imagine being an international visitor arriving by ship to Port Melbourne? Not a good look to say the least. Various levels of government have created the face of Port Melbourne and it unfortunately is less than welcoming to the point of shouting, ‘go away – we don’t want you’.

Australian bureaucracy .. Melbourne is one of the great cities in the world, is kid safe, has natural good looks, is extremely liveable and is in a country which led every other country out of the GFC. Yet, there is a dark side. Maybe we need to learn from Greece, Spain and Italy when it comes to scrutinising what all levels of Government actually do. Not what they say they do or are going to do but what they actually achieve for the good of the country and the people depending on those decisions. More importantly, we need to clearly understand just what they have failed to do and the ramifications of those inactions.
At what point do we object to the way elected governments fail to translate our needs into sustainable policy or indeed, even to be able to clearly recognise dysfunction? How bad does it need to be before we realise that our elected officials do not necessarily have the appropriate drive to deliver on the cognisant, positive and essential policies designed to enhance our country?
Unfortunately, it is a fact that there are many of our elected officials who crave public recognition at any cost but not by achieving recognition through positive deeds and actions but by seeking ‘instant recognition’ - more important than the outcome. The obvious example being, politicians wanting to be seen to be doing something by instigating punitive action rather than spending a bit more thought and creating a positive outcome. Punitive is easy.

Port Melbourne .. Our international seaway disembarkation at Port Melbourne is a disgrace to Melbourne, Victoria and Australia. This is the fault and responsibility of several areas of Government - The State Government, The City of Port Phillip, Melbourne Ports and possibly the Federal Government. Given the tourist and international importance of less than a kilometre of coastline encompassing the stretch from Bay Street through to Princes pier and including Station Pier, one would think there would be sustained effort to create something special. Not so. In the last 13 years to our knowledge nothing positive has been achieved. Indeed, the whole area has regressed to a point of dysfunction. As I said above, we need to see what has been achieved and what has gone backwards – not what has been promised or planned or ‘is in next year’s budget’ or ‘we will take it under advisement’ or ‘we are working hard’ or ‘it’s in train’ or ‘leave it to us’. May I say, nothing has been achieved and indeed the area has regressed to a point where insolvencies, bankruptcies and business closures are endemic.
This is a legacy of many current bureaucracies and past governments.
What a shame for Melbourne!

Solution .. The problems are obvious and the inability of multiple levels of Government to deal with these problems is also obvious. Therefore, to save our heritage and reputation, we need to immediately establish a body / consultancy / group without politicians albeit representing the 3 areas of government with enough legal drive to turn this situation around within weeks. That body could be as small as 3-5 people but with enough clout to demand from various government departments immediate action and address known systemic and endemic dysfunctions.

First fix – the obvious .. Immediate action is needed to support tourism and local businesses that depend on destination visitors. This is an easy first fix as all it takes is to reprogram parking meters to reflect reality.
Independent reports on parking commissioned by another council stated that parking fees are only applicable when demand exceeds supply and if that occurs, fees should be set at a figure promoting an 85% fill rate. In this way revenue is maximised, parking availability is maintained and parking supports local business. In the tourist precinct of Beach Street and Waterfront Place, it is mostly empty [less than 23%] being only busy when there are functions in the local restaurants and people have no choice but to park or when something like QE2 or Queen Mary steams into port. There is little demand and as parking is free everywhere else it discriminates against traders on this strip. Big words? No, not when you consider the ramifications i.e. up to 5 insolvencies in the area. The primary reason for the empty spaces is the cost of ticketed parking. We get many many complaints a week from our customers vowing to go somewhere else next time. This is a serious issue for our tourist precinct, the businesses and indeed a serious issue for Melbourne. This is because our sea gateway is seen as empty, dead, unapproachable and undesirable. No critical mass, no people and as people are gregarious by nature it remains empty. There are other reasons for this but parking costs are the first and most easily fixed. Simple, first hour free then $2 per hour from 2am to 7pm with no cap. The message this sends is simple and effective. ‘Port wants you to visit and enjoy what we have to offer and to show that, we have dropped our parking fees. ‘You should see us now’. There is no demand after 7pm as the ferry has gone; therefore there is no justification for fees at all but as the Mayor of Port Phillip believes parking fees dissuade Tasmanian ‘abusers’ and residents park their second and third cars on the streets, then make fees applicable from 2am. Everyone needs 85% occupancy from car parking for tourism, business and indeed promoting our gateway to Melbourne. Fee structure is one easily implementable action to help create a solution. Port Phillip council need to recognise a dysfunctional tourist area and make immediate and definitive change in terms of parking fees.

Second fix – anti-dead .. The second immediate fix is to force the Port Melbourne Business Association, into which all traders are required to donate, to action visual strategic promotion of the area. The ‘PMBA’ need to be forced to develop a professional business plan defining responsibilities reflecting our collective levies with immediate action [as distinct from its present documents and indeed, actions]. For example, why haven’t we got defined entrances with street banners and flags to Beach Street past Bay Street so that tourists feel special about entering the tourist area? Why are the banner points derelict and why are the flagpoles empty – for literally years? Port Melbourne is being whipped by Docklands and it shouldn’t happen. If you are in any doubt, PMBA recently advertised Docklands in a glossy magazine delivered to all of Port Melbourne within which we have a lift out. In effect we are advertising ourselves to ourselves whilst promoting the opposition. Fantastic! The above is the easiest part and can happen within two weeks. These actions will in themselves create an impetus for change and show to the Melbourne population that Port Melbourne wants visitors. Then, we get down to short term remedial actions. Port Melbourne cannot be seen as dying or dead. The closure of the former gym ‘block’ means that the area is empty, hostile and ghostlike. Dead or dying businesses also mean people avoid the area. An empty property has a certain spooky feel and is lifeless and foreboding. Up-lights under the palm trees on Beach Street outside the dead gym are indicative and are also dead and do nothing to alleviate the spooky feel. Not good for Melbourne.

Third fix – the ugly. The truck parking area remains a third world transition border crossing sans the barb wire. This is appalling unless you are a trucker with an avid love of truck spotting. Beach Street and Waterfront Place are turning into truck parking yards at peak tourist times with a marshalling yard designed to expedite truck movements rather than support a tourist precinct. We are aware that truck movements keep the ferry going and are critical to its survival and therefore are critical to maintain. However this does not mean that that goal is mutually exclusive to creating a tourist precinct. For example, the fence surrounding the area is dreadful. A dodgy wire fence with a misspelt sign is not the best look. Trucks do what trucks do within their marshalling area but it doesn’t have to be visible and destructive. There are many fixes for this but the easiest and quickest [think 2 weeks] is a proper fence and gates. The ideal would be a fence where pedestrian tourists say 200m away cannot see the tops of trucks within the yard. A fence designed to hide. [See heritage guidelines for second story additions to homes with an overlay] This not just a chunk of black hessian / plastic wrapped onto the existing fence, but a proper fence of some architectural merit with plantings around the top and base designed to hide everything. Maybe charcoal or dark green would be appropriate. For the entrance gates think wrought iron and Art Deco or go and see the fantastic new-ish gates on the St Kilda Botanical Gardens.

Fourth fix – Our future The area needs up-market retail to survive. The western side of the truck marshalling area needs to be developed for 8 or so small retail shops above truck height over the yard itself with a boardwalk and utilising existing grassed area. Any up market shop seen as leisure related would be great such as, souvenirs, designer garments, etc. Other fixes include - the wide footpath on the waterfront opposite Nott Street could become a market like St Kilda upper esplanade. Easy to implement through third parties. There are many water related sports which could be promoted for the beaches including kayaking, canoeing, diving, etc. Easily implemented through third parties. Why haven’t we got bollards [Geelong] and/or sculptures all along the area [Bondi] where artists can erect their masterpieces for sale and if not sold within say 6 months remove them and let someone else have a turn? Docklands are killing us in terms of street art yet we have the beaches and should lead the pack! Go figure!. Lastly, our international seaway. This is our huge opportunity to scream ‘Melbourne’. Station Pier is a disgrace to Melbourne and remains as a Gestapo style lock down. It has turned into a barricaded industrial homage for ferry access instead of promoting Melbourne as a city of life with ease of living and a welcoming persona. Imagine our trams going all the way to the end of the pier – imagine an arthouse theatre – imagine the MSO plugged. There are so many opportunities. Once again, for a ‘talented’ architect, the brief to create a world recognised landmark for Melbourne incorporating heritage features, the ferry and all the ancillary things would be sought after with some vigour and it doesn’t have to be the Taj Mahal. Princes Pier has not worked and is currently a homage to design by committee. Yet, it can be fixed. Changing our international arrival point and heritage piers is harder because it depends on several areas of Government working together. But it can happen and can happen quickly. All it needs is some forethought and a desire to actually make something happen along with power to make the changes. I can only imagine these changes happening through multi-level Government interventions because idiot power mongers will want to protect their area of so called responsibility and will not submit to mere co-operation preferring to hold onto power but in effect, do nothing. Therefore we need an independent body to take control of this tourist specific area and turn it around. Notionally, the less than 1km stretch between Bay Street and Princes Pier. May I stress an ‘independent’ body. Why, because multiple Governments have proven their incompetence on an ongoing basis. Especially the local council.

Mr Premier, this letter has been copied to the undermentioned, is published on my blog [] and is with all the daily and local papers. It is up to them whether or not they consider Port Melbourne worth saving.
Yes, we do have a vested interest because we own Deco Bistro and Gallery at 49 Beach Street Port Melbourne and see the dysfunctions on a daily basis.
We want this tourist area to thrive and be a model for the rest of the world and it can happen quickly given commitment by all vested interests and an agreement to remove politicking.

Jon Langevad MBA

CC. Mr Mark Birrell Chairman
Fx: 9683 1570
Included in this request because of his present role as Chair of PoMC and past experience as and especially Minister for Major Projects (responsible for Agenda 21 infrastructure projects like the Exhibition Centre, Museum, City Circle tram, the Regent Theatre, Docklands, Beacon Cove and the Sports and Aquatic Centre) as well as his interest in photography / visual arts. A man who should understand visual amenity and the failings of Port Melbourne.

Ms Rachel Powning Mayor City of Port Phillip
Included in this request as Mayor of Port Phillip albeit because of elections this year, of limited tenure.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dine out with an open mind.

We own a couple of restaurants and I suppose try to offer something other restaurants do not.
To survive and prosper, our cuisine needs to be a little different, meet a ‘wow’ factor and perhaps by virtue of supplying a menu, not offer too many over the top surprises. People hopefully come to us to enjoy what we offer and enjoy the experience. For example,you can go to a thousand places to get poached eggs but how many have poached eggs with truffle oil, poached cauliflower and ‘soldiers’ from house made ciabatta style bread?
Not many me thinks.
You may just want the generic poached eggs on white toast and you would be right in going to one of the thousand cafes who cook that style of egg. But, you would not be within your rights to come to our place and demand poached eggs your way, when we offer a different experience.
In reverse, it would be like going to a cheap and cheerful and demanding caviar - totally inappropriate.
Last weekend we had a gentleman who ordered a seafood risotto. This dish was mentioned on our ‘A’ board and was detailed within the menu.
Our ‘A’ board and menu version consisted of cured salmon, crayfish bisque and schnapper.
This customer was unhappy because he had expected something else; perhaps from one of the thousand cafes he frequented. He even demanded that he see the chef to tell him that he was concerned ‘others’ would be offended by the errant risotto because it didn’t contain what he thought it should.
Well, the chef [me] did confront the customer and tried to explain all of the above but the customer was well past listening because he was concentrating on himself and his opinions as well as even going to the absurd by justifying his position by exclaiming he was in the hospitality industry.
I feel sorry for this person because he misses the fun of dining out. He wanted the same seafood risotto as he had had at the thousand.
But when you come to our place expect to get the product we offer. It may be the same or it may be different but it is ours and we serve it our way. Hopefully it is always good.
In this way we remain differentiated from the thousand.
Telling me how to do my job is irritating and unfortunately I did tell him. Semi-politely.