Earlier this year we reported that Chinatown Plaza was set for massive renovations, though incidentally they’re separate to the upgrade plans taking place at the Adelaide Central Markets. At the time, we speculated whether this would be the end of the $6 plate… and we have an answer.
Yes, it is the end. But it’s for the best.
While there was a certain street charm to the old Chinatown Plaza, it hadn’t been touched since the 80s and it showed. Property owner Irena Zhang initially sought the consultation of Matthews Architects, the team behind such spaces as the Frome Road Cafe opposite the University Of South Australia, and has stayed faithful to their vision while first hand making regular business trips to China to secure the materials to ensure the build can operate within budget.
But while expense may be a concern for the project, attention to detail is not being spared. Zhang has a vision for a combined retail and food space, comprising of 7 retail fronts along the Moonta St thoroughfare, while internally 8 food businesses, paired with a bar will operate. While the building is a shell currently, she explains the gutting the entire building from it’s closure in August was necessary to make sure that basic systems like plumbing, air conditioning and extraction, bathrooms and the dining room as a whole could be given a fresh start. The context is modern and the attention to detail is starting to shine through in the already installed window bench features, which feature the concrete extending through the windows to create a three-dimensional feature that will compliment a new outdoor dining strip.
Internally, Zhang is seeking an all new line up of vendors to compliment the modern space, and is still accepting applications in order to curate the right fit. Organic, vegetarian and modern food trends are on her list of desires to ensure that a more progressive and modern tastes and trends are represented, but she’s by no means settled on a list of names.
Looking at the space, it seems these sorts of businesses may be a natural fit, but the roots of the Chinatown Plaza won’t be forgotten. The balance, as Zhang sees it, is to make a space which is open, accessible and still a part of the extended trading community of Chinatown, but one that also feeds into the evolution of Adelaide as a city and our food culture by and large. She is well aware that Adelaide doesn’t always deal well with change, and is sensitive to ensuring that the changes are for the better, for the future and can be something that will work for the future of the whole markets precinct. As the amenity of spaces like the plaza are upgraded, it’s her hope that a new marriage of produce and heritage can be forged, as the necessary evolution of businesses surrounding the Chinatown precinct quite naturally change.
So there you have it Adelaide. Keep your eyes peeled. And those interested in applying to be a part of the new vision should contact Chinatown Plaza via their Facebook page.