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June 9, 2020
Culture

Step inside a ‘crazy little pop-up restaurant’

The evolution of ARTHUR art house on Currie Street continues in this latest form – a 20-seat garden centre / restaurant run by a mysterious man named Tim.

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  • Pictures & words: Josh Fanning

There aren’t too many interviews you listen back to that sound like a play or, better yet, like one of the classic Clarke and Dawe skits from Kerry O’Brien-era 7:30 Report.

This 12-odd minutes of tape is potentially the most entertaining interview CityMag‘s ever had the pleasure of listening back to.

Remarks

Tim’s Restaurant & Gardening open’s for its first service tonight for family and friends and will then operate once or twice a week for as long as anyone’s interested. Book a table via the website. Stay in touch through Arthur.

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The set up was benign enough: A text message from Cassandra Tombs of Tuxedo Cat fame came in at 09:18AM this morning, ding!

“Howdy. We are doing a crazy little pop up restaurant. If there is a chance anywhere for a plug that would be great, otherwise can you just tell your mates. 👍”

Without wanting to solicit more of these sorts of texts, we must caution that we’re only responding ‘yes’ to Cass because of her more than 10 years of doing crazy cool pop-up things in the Adelaide art and theatre space.

Cass went on to text that she was re-formatting the giant Arthur space on Currie street to make it a smaller and cosier space. True enough to her text, we arrive to find Arthur cut in half by some velour drapes hung from the roof tiles and a series of long tables set up on the dilapidated parquetry floor.

It does indeed look like a restaurant.

Cass wrangles “the boys”, as she referred to them in her text. Three young men sit down, 19-year-old Art Hussnain, 18-year-old Ben Viney, and 19-year-old Nathan Miles. It takes a little while to get the spelling right and then the sketch – er – interview begins.

L-R: Ben Viney, Art Hussnain and Nathan Miles in their workwear

 

Q&A with Tim’s Restaurant & Gardening

CityMag:Are you high school friends? Uni friends? 
Ben: No, Tim hired us.

Art: It’s the first time I’ve met these guys, honestly.

Who’s Tim?
Art: Tim’s the owner of the garden emporium.

Tim has a last name, or is it more like a Madonna-situation?
Ben: He goes by many names. We just know him as Tim, honestly.

Art: He’s never told us.

What do you know about the concept here you’re launching tonight. Obviously you’ve been hired. You’ve been briefed?
Ben: Yes. Well, not much. We just know that we’re waiters.

Nathan: We were just working at this gardening centre and then Tim turned it into a restaurant.

Ben: He hasn’t been around for the last couple of days and we’re not quite sure what we’re doing.

Art: We can’t lose our jobs, y’know? We gotta keep doing something.

It launches tonight? Who’s invited?
Art: Friends and family… because they won’t give us a liquor licence in time, but um…

Is this going to run throughout SALA?
Ben: No we’re doing something else for SALA.

Tim’s favourite plant, a “Chinese Money tree” says Art Hussnain

 

So what is this? Is it an experiment? Is it a performance?
Ben: No, no, no. It’s a gardening centre that had to close…

Art: It’s a gardening centre-cum-restaurant.

Ben: It had to close because of COVID and we could no longer go to people’s houses and do their landscaping, so to make more money we’ve opened as a restaurant because the government says that’s okay.

A restaurant for 20 people?
Ben: Twenty people. That’s correct.

Where’s your kitchen?
Ben: The food is being prepared off site in a commercial kitchen. We’re just heating it up here. You know, we’ve got to make do with what we’ve got.

And so what sort of food are you serving?
Ben: Plants.

Art: Yes, we’re a garden centre remember.

So you’ll be serving up plants?
Ben: The food will be cooked, yes.

Nathan: No one’s going to pay for cold plants. That’d be ridiculous.


 

That’s just the first three minutes of the interview.

We tried several different ways to discover a little bit more about the enigmatic “Tim” and whether he would be turning up to his gardening centre-cum-restaurant (he is, they say), or what the truth of this incredible story might be – the three horticultural waiters simply shrug and implore us to believe they are telling the truth.

In an age of uncertainty, it feels like Tim’s Restaurant and Gardening may be just the feed we need.

timsgardening.andrestaurant.com.au

Ben – literally sharpening his hedge trimmers ahead of tonight’s service

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