Perched in the inner suburban Easey Street in Collingwood, a burger restaurant known as Easeys has quickly become a stitch in the fabric of Melbourne’s Food and Art culture. Owned by Jimmy Hurlston, Phil Martin, and Jeremy Gaschk the instant popularity and buzz Easeys has created is shown by their social media audience consisting of over 35,000 likes and followers.
Created by a mix of the food and art cultures, Easeys journey to get to where it is today is an intriguing story.
Hurlston was the inspiration behind the food element of Easeys. Having previously worked in law and wanting to try something different, he found himself eating burgers for lunch and dinner and blogging about them under the guise of ‘Jimmy’s Burgers’. Hurlston also wrote a book called The Burger Book – Victoria, Martin claims that “[Hurlston] was probably one of the original dudes to do food blogging.”
While doing his food blogging, a mate approached Hurlston and Gaschk about utilising a space that he was in the process of creating in Collingwood. Their mate wanted to turn the building into an art gallery and a bar, however when coupled with Jimmy’s food background it was decided that they could do an art gallery, bar and a burger store in the one, thus creating Easeys.
Placing Easeys in Collingwood was not a strategic choice by the owners although it was premeditated in a sense with the building really drawing them in. It was chosen by friends of the owners, Prowla and Zvi Belling – two talented graffiti artists, and the opportunity this building presented was too good to pass up.
“We had our own concept to make Easeys what it looks like, covered with graffiti inside and out and to have the food, drinks, and atmosphere representative of what the building had already” Martin explains. The concept to construct a building based around trains and graffiti is credited to the architects. Prowla and Zvi were two of the people who worked on the concept after having previously worked on The Hive in Carlton, another graffiti inspired building. The Hitachi train, which is the type of train on the roof of the building, is an iconic Melbourne symbol and as described by Jimmy:
“[is] The Holy Grail for Melbourne graffiti artists and has been celebrated within the scene for years”
It was coming time for Easeys to open but building permits and time constraints put a delay on these plans so the owners created a temporary ‘pop up’ in the city. The pop up, which sold out daily, was simply cooking burgers on a BBQ and serving drinks. Hype was already building before they’d opened, thanks to the loyal and large social media following Easeys had. The modern day ability for diners to brag about the food they eat via social media has played into the hands of Easeys and food outlets everywhere.
Any new restaurant needs to stand out, therefore the menu and recipes for some of the burgers at Easeys are quite unique. The Melbourne Madness references a lyric from a 90’s Aussie hip hop track by artist Bias B and has a potato cake and dim sim in it. The burger, like much of the menu, is inspired by Hurlston who in fact has a dim sim tattoo on his arm. The reasoning for having such unique recipes on the menu is to balance the Australian influence with the obvious large American influence Easeys has, and what’s more Aussie then watching the footy on a Friday night while eating Australian staples like a dim sim or a potato cake? Described by Hurlston “It is very important not to forget where we came from and the things that have helped shaped our lives.”
Although Easeys was originally targeted at open minded people who love food, music, and graffiti, the popularity of Easeys has extended beyond those boundaries attracting families and children. Described by Hurlston as:
“a quintessential Melbourne experience”
Easeys attracts many tourists and the experience it delivers shows off the best of Melbourne’s culture. The trains on the roof are now becoming an important part of Melbourne and is slowly becoming a tourist attraction. Martin believes that “anyone that appreciates Melbourne for what it is wants to be here”.
Easeys also loves its music, playing hip hop regularly but sometimes having themed days such as Reggae on Sunday, “Tupac Tuesday” or “Wutang Wednesday”. It’s always changing, with a new menu out in the coming weeks, the graffiti inside changing almost daily, and the trains on the roof being re-painted every 1-2 months. If you’re living in Sydney and jealous of us Melbournians then never fear, Hurlston also has a new store Guilty that has recently opened up in Darlinghurst that has a similar menu to Easeys. But for us lucky Victorians Easey’s is a must see/eat/visit when you’re in the city. So pop in for a taste of Melbourne’s unique food and art culture.