Modern bistro dining in a heritage establishment

guess it was something of a paradox that the Brisbane Arcade, under the stewardship of the Cameron Bros. Realty, epitomized the ‘establishment’, yet it ushered in a new modern era of Bistro dining. The Arcade Bistro was the first of its kind in Queensland. I bought the lease from a family-run coffee lounge, owned by Magda Waller – it was the “in” place for Brisbane ladies, and Magda was well known for her schnitzels. It was bloody hard to get a liquor license in those days as the hotel association had great political power! I was in Brisbane Arcade from February 16, 1968 until June 1980. The clientele was a perpendicular cut of the society: businessmen, ladies who would visit the arcade’s couturiers (like Harvey Graham), professionals from the Law fraternity peppered with heaps of ‘office girls’. Luncheons for 12 to 20 people were almost daily occurrences. Prime Ministers, Premiers, Judges, they were all common diners at The Arcade Bistro. Gough Whitlam  (God love him, a wonderful man) came in with Mr. Jim Kennedy (the man who made Australia Post and Telecom separate entities and upped the price of stamps from a penny to ten cents). I guess before the Queen Street Mall came into being, Queen Street had not changed in 100 years, so the Bistro, and later the mall, introduced the start of major changes to Brisbane’s inner city.

Bradley Garrett, former owner, The Arcade Bistro