We hear a lot about places that are coming and going, opening and closing. But every now and then, something catches our eye that makes us pause, maybe our breath catches for just a moment… And when we caught a quick glimpse on an Instagram story of something that looked a lot like the old Theo & Co. interior, we knew we had to investigate.
We’re glad we did, because now we’re pretty damn excited about Vikka.
We stopped by for a chat with Rachael Barrett and her mum Claire (pictured above with grandad Ken Devereaux and father Tim) – two of the team behind the new family-run venture.
It’s not through chance that they’re in the heart of Leederville – in the ’50s Claire’s grandparents operated a bicycle and then electrical goods store out of the Oxford Street shop. This was in turn bought and operated by Claire’s parents until the late ’90s, when it was finally leased as restaurant premises. And so it went until its most recent vacancy and the family decided it was time to undertake some building repairs and to consider their options.
“We had been musing with the idea for a while, this might be amazing, if the opportunity ever came up,” Rachael tells us, sitting amidst a sea of construction materials next to what will soon be the refurbished kitchen area towards the back of the restaurant. “I’ve worked in hospitality, in all different roles, for a long time. Hospitality is amazing, but also it’s been pretty disheartening. And so, it’s the perfect opportunity to be like, ‘Hey, we can create something and try to tackle some of the issues, be the change in hospitality’ – or try.”
“It’s often such an environment where you have to be tough, and you can’t show vulnerability, so I’m hoping to be a venue led with empathy and kindness, where people can be actually be comfortable in their workplaces and flourish, and thrive.”
This approach has been a driving force behind the venue, not just in their approach to staffing and culture, but in their food offerings, too.
“It’s really the food we like to make,” Claire says. “If you came to our house, it’s similar food to what we would make for family and friends. We’re not chefs. We just want it to be a welcoming place. Just a friendly place where people can gather.”
Family-style cooking, family friendly approach: “It’s not the sort of place where you couldn’t go. You know some places, you’ve got a two year old, you just wouldn’t take them because it’s just not appropriate, [Vikka]’s a place you can take your young children, and your grandma.”
So what does that mean when it comes to the menu?
“Stuff we love serving to our friends. Focaccias, hummuses were very much what mum cooked when I was growing up, food that I love and value,” Rachael says warmly. “Starting off, just doing dinners. I don’t think we can use the word Napoletana pizza…”
“No, we’ll get crucified!” Claire interjects, laughing. No one wants to get on the bad side of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, after all.
“It’s going to be Napoletana-style pizza,” Rachael clarifies with a smirk, “Small share plates – snack-y, nice stuff to eat with wine, local produce. And really trying to keep food mileage down and just to use local producers. Trying to make as much stuff in-house as possible, with a focus on trying to reduce a bit of kitchen waste – bits and pieces, house-made pickles and preserves for the pizzas.”
Importantly, there will be ample on offer for vegetarians and vegans, with the team looking at making vegan cheese and meat in-house.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, with a goal of building up to offering pizza by the slice and deli-style sandwiches for lunch, and even a selection of house-made and locally sourced goods to take home – dip, olives and the like. While they won’t have a liquor license to start with, their plans for booze veers towards “natural-leaning, little bit natty, very simple cocktails”, but with a strong selection of solid non-alcoholic options, too.
Vikka is certainly ticking a lot of boxes for us – an inclusive, sustainable ethos paired with simple, delicious food and relaxed drinks. If that doesn’t get you excited, we don’t know what will.
“It’s been a very organic thing,” Claire tells us. “It’s probably like, totally not what you’re supposed to do; ‘Have all this experience, have a very detailed business plan’, and stuff like that, but it’s more of an old-fashioned family business type thing, where you just kind of get together and pool your talents.”
Vikka will be at 147 Oxford Street, Leederville and is expected to open in October.