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Farewell to the Myer Food Hall

A Melbourne icon closes its doors.

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.

The closure of the much-loved Melbourne institution has arisen because of Myer Melbourne’s redevelopment programme, instigated by new storeowners Newbridge Capital.

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.



3 responses to “Farewell to the Myer Food Hall”

On 1 October 2018, Geoffrey wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

Like the writer, I also enjoyed the Myer food hall. At the time I was a student at nearby RMIT in the early 1960’s studying engineering and on more occasions than my lecturers would have prefered I would skip class to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere strolling the enticing food aisles finishing with a cake and coffee whilst gazing into the Lt Bourke Street crowd and day dreaming of a world away. I did graduate as a mechanical engineer and went on into great jobs and eventually senior executive positions with large multi-national companies located in some of the countries of my dreams. Today, all these years later, I can clearly sense that old store atmosphere and the mind calming that let me finish my studies. Thanks Myer.

On 16 September 2020, Michael Carroll wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

I used to be the nut cook there for many years in the ’90s. I used to go home smelling like peanuts and people would move seats on the train away from me.

On 16 September 2020, Michael Carroll wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

Also I think that’s me in the ’83 pic when I started at Cold Takeaway (sandwiches).

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