Richard Chatfield has been with the Darcy Group, a generations-old hospitality business, for over three years. He was previously a general manager of the Beaumaris Hotel, a National Operations Manager of the Q Bar Group and has a long history in hospitality.
“I’ve owned my own restaurant and worked in pubs and in the casino. I’ve been in hospitality for about 20 years,” says Richard. Like many people in hospitality, Richard fell into the industry. In the 90s he was living next door to the Saloon Bar in South Yarra (since closed). “The owner decided that I needed to work because he saw me out on my front lawn too much,” he says.
Rather than drinking beer on his front lawn, Richard worked behind the bar and fell in love with the industry. “I love the live music side of things, I love the food, the liquor obviously, but more so the interaction with people and customers. We are very fortunate in hospitality. We bring a lot of joy to people’s lives and we’re an escape for people on the weekends, so I’ve met incredible people through it – some of my closest friends. It’s been really good to me.”
Richard opened his own modern Australian restaurant in St Kilda in 2004 and owned it for about three years. “But owning a restaurant is working a lot of hours. You need to be working 70 – 80 hours a week, and it takes up your whole life,” he explains. In the end he took the lessons he learnt from running his own restaurant to help manage other people’s venues.
Melbourne Public opened in August 2011, about the same time Richard joined the Darcy Group. “We’re very fortunate that Luke Darcy, one of the owners has a high profile radio show with Eddie McGuire and Mick Molloy. Through Luke we were definitely able to get a lot of publicity through Triple M which is fantastic. That drove a lot of business to us in the first 12 months. As the South Wharf area has developed the foot traffic has increased substantially. And the awareness of the area has increased, and therefore the business certainly has come leaps and bounds and is becoming the success that we expected it to be,” says Richard.
Melbourne Public benefits from the unique mix of an experienced hospitality family who also enjoy sporting celebrity. “David Darcy and Janet – Luke’s parents – have been involved with pubs as far back as I know, I think back in the 70’s,” explains Richard. “The Darcy family grew up in hotels, so hospitality is in Luke’s blood as well. He’s not an ex-AFL player that has fallen into pubs, he’s grown up around it. So he understands it all very well, his whole family does.”
Richard sees great potential for South Wharf Promenade. “I think the message that we try to get across is how close it is to the city. It’s a five-minute walk from Crown Casino, and it is exciting to be in an area with great hospitality operators and more venues coming onboard very soon. Not by us, and we do suggest you frequent Melbourne Public over the others of course, but it is exciting,” he jokes. “It’s an exciting area to be involved with. And it’s come such a long way in three years.”