Originally published on Broadsheet.
The family that built Stalactites opens a tiny takeaway spot on Elizabeth Street.
Thirty nine years ago, the Konstandakopoulos family opened Stalactites. It has since become a Melbourne institution, open 24/7 and perpetually filled with diners downing souvlaki and Mythos lager, often in the very early hours of the morning. Its unique stalactite-like walls and ceilings, hand-crafted with plaster by the owners themselves.
What’s the key to almost four decades of steady service?
“Loyal staff, establishing rapport with customers, and luck,” says managing director Nicole Papasavas.
“As a family, we have wanted to open another store for a while. People have asked us to open a Stalactites interstate, even overseas, but we wanted to keep the new concept close to home.”
The result is Hella Good, a tiny takeaway souvlaki store at the Flinders Street end of Elizabeth Street.
The family didn’t want to clone two-storey Stalactites, with its signature plastered walls and boisterous crowd, but rather “capture the spirit of the restaurant on a small scale”.
“I think the reason Stalactites has done so well for so many years is people like familiar food, and that’s what we’re trying to bring to Hella Good. We’re not trying to follow food trends, we’re serving up honest Greek food that resonates and brings comfort to people.”
The menu is simple and succinct – four souvlaki options, chips, dips, open plates of souvlaki and salad, and the Hella Snack Pack: souvlaki meat with chips and pita bread, drizzled with tzatziki. Vegetarian souvlaki is also on offer – with lettuce, tomato, feta, cucumber and tzatziki.
If you need something sweet after your main, there’s rice pudding and baklava.
The canteen, which is predominantly for takeaway but has six timber dine-in seats, tips its cap to its older sibling with a new interpretation of plaster stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Wendy Bergman of Bergman & Co designed the fit-out, which packs a lot of punch for a petite space: glossy white tiles, a paneled timber feature wall and textural ceiling installation. You won’t miss the royal blue awning out front, either.
7 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
(03) 9629 8239
Sun to Thu 11am–12pm
Fri & Sat 11am–5am
Image credit: Catherine Grey