When James Griffin, Ben Shute and Alessandro Poletti were planning to open a restaurant, they wanted to find a location that captured the charm and beauty of Brisbane’s older pubs. It took several years of searching, but in August 2016, the trio stumbled on a place that achieved that atmosphere in a largely untouched precinct at the edge of West End’s art-filled streets. The trio took over the business — The Milk Factory
at the Coronation Hotel, formerly the Montague Hotel on Montague Road — continuing to keep the historic venue brimming with live music, great food and plenty of drinks. “When the opportunity came up to take over a lease in an original 1891 hotel and continue the tradition of good food, cheap drinks and great live music, it really ticked every box for us,” said James.
Located in the shadow of the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, the establishment draws its name from the Parmalat Milk Factory across the road, a local fixture since West End’s industrial beginnings.
Though the area may have changed in the years since, The Milk Factory stays true to West End’s diversity and personality.Dining options are aimed at everyone from regulars who want a meal at the bar to theatregoers grabbing dinner before a show. The entertainment line-up is no different, satisfying all tastes. “Our eclectic live music offering really lets us reach out to wide demographics at any given time. In one week, we can have a bluegrass crowd, jazz crowd, young indie rock crowd, comedy crowd and others,” said James.
While that might seem like a balancing act, the owners have more than 40 years in the industry between them, in both casual and fine dining restaurants.More importantly, they had a strong sense of what they wanted: a place that fused great service with a comfortable, welcoming ambience, where food was affordable, approachable, excellent quality and came with a well-paired beer.
“The Milk Factory is simply our ideal place to have a meal, have a drink and watch a show. We think it is for many other people as well,” said James. “The benefit of trying to create the perfect establishment for yourself is that you attract patrons who are like minded and can really see and appreciate what we are trying to do.”
Under their ownership, the restaurant’s trading hours have been extended to seven days a week. New daily specials have been added, as well as a menu that features traditional pub cuisine with Alessandro’s fine dining influence. Expect favourites like chicken parmigiana with chips alongside savoury zucchini and truffle cream gnocchi. While the food, entertainment, and craft beverages may be a draw, what defines The Milk Factory is the passion behind it. “You don’t buy a small place like this unless you truly enjoy what you do for a living, and we truly do,” said James. “Seeing people enjoy the space is incredibly satisfying and reminds us that the hard work is worth it and is paying off.”