On Saturday 15 September 2007, a Melbourne icon will trade for the last time.
Myer’s Food Hall, which has been serving fresh fare to Melburnians for decades, will close on Saturday when up to 65 Myer employees will lose their jobs.
The Myer Melbourne food hall.
As was reported on the News Desk in April, Myer is moving out of its Londale Street building and shifting most of its Melbourne operations to the Bourke Street portion of the store. The Lonsdale Street store is to be redeveloped. Whilst Myer will retain a small presence in the building, it has no plans of retaining its famous food hall.
Purchasing lollies and sweets at the confectionery counter at the Myer food hall.
Of course Melbourne is not the city that it once was, and times have changed.
When Myer opened its food hall, there were far fewer shops that sold pastries, cakes, biscuits, pies or even from which to buy a hot lunch. But competition has opened up a lot in the last two decades as the city centre has been revitalised. Myer presumably feels that there is no longer a place in the department store for a general food hall.
Nevertheless, I am sorry to see its closure.
I regularly passed through the hall as I shopped in the city, the smell of roasted nuts almost being synonymous with Myer. In particular, I enjoyed buying a coffee and cake and sitting in the window looking across to Little Bourke Street. Sure, the vista was not pretty (patrons had a disused telephone exchange and the other half of Myer to look at) but it allowed a good view of passers-by and the general hustle-bustle of the city. And the price was reasonable too…. coffee and some sort of pastry for about $5 represented good value.
The famous “cake walk” at Myer Melbourne.
But what I most liked about sipping coffee in the Myer Food Hall was that there was no attitude. I was not being trendy or making some sort of statement by being there. I didn’t need to fit some sort of niche clientèle or be in-the-know. It was just Myer, plain and simple.
Of course there was more than just coffee to enjoy. I always liked passing the lolly and chocolate departments, or choosing a fresh drink from the self-serve juice bar or admiring the litany of cakes along the famous “cake walk”. Sometimes they had the most impressive and scrumptious-looking cakes I’d ever seen! And if one desired, there were hot soups, roast meats, pies, pastries, sushi rolls, fruit platters, salads, cheeses, dried fruits and many other delights that could be purchased for lunch or a snack or taken home for dinner later.
Now most of that is set to go.
The Cookie Man biscuit counter at the Myer Food Hall.
To me, it seems a curious decision by Myer to remove the food hall that has always been so busy with customers. Closing this much-loved department must surely be as poor a public relations mistake as a financial one?
Or maybe it is time to concede that Myer has to move on.
A very busy Myer Food Hall in 1983.
Picture © Commonwealth of Australia (View image source)
Regardless, I cannot help but feel disappointment at the loss of a place that I have spent many enjoyable hours in, either taking a morning tea or perusing the selection of gourmet foods.
The closure of the Myer Food Hall is as much a loss for Melbourne as it is for Myer and I am really sad to see it go.