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Meet the Makers: Sunshine Social

Is there anything that brings people together more than a barbecue? Sunshine Social has captured this idea, creating a fun yet modern eatery for mingling while enjoying tasty meals cooked over smoking-hot coals.

Family, friends and good times come to mind when we think of barbecues. Take away the cooking and cleaning, and you know you’re onto a winner. Sunshine Social not only makes barbies easy, it also offers a reinvented take on the Aussie classic. Greg Fee and Gareth Crawford, the guys behind this west-side hangout, have reimagined what was previously a local service station and created a meeting place that serves all your favourite barbecue bites, some with a twist. Think: charcoal chicken, sausages, barbecue lamb chops, burgers and more. Its dessert menu will send you into nostalgic bliss, with choc ripple cake, frogs in a pond and ice cream sangas all on the menu. 

Sunshine Social’s food can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors — either way you’ll notice the fun yet sleek sunshine theme that works to create the friendly atmosphere Greg and Gareth are going for. We caught up with one half of this dynamic duo (Greg) to hear all about the Sunshine Social story. 

What were you doing before starting Sunshine Social?

We have both been involved in the hospitality industry for many years, most recently reopening the Royal Hotel in Bacchus Marsh and the Station Hotel in Footscray.

How did the idea for Sunshine Social come about?

We were looking for a venue for our next business in Melbourne’s west. One day, we were driving around and came up to the roundabout on Glengala Road in Sunshine. We saw this abandoned petrol station and immediately said, ‘That’s it!’. 

What do you do in your role at Sunshine Social?

Gareth is very hands-on looking after customers, organising events and managing functions both here and at workplaces in the west. I have the ‘unfortunate’ job of tasting the new dishes, and selecting the beer and wine list!

Tell us about your team at Sunshine Social. 

We are so lucky to have a great team of girls and guys working here at Sunshine Social. Leicester, our head chef, sets the bar high in terms of his standards and everybody follows his lead.

Tell us about your unique venue — a converted petrol station — and how you transformed it. 

The site was vacant and very tired, so we had a blank canvas to start with. We knew we wanted to create a casual, family-friendly eating and drinking venue that the locals could treat as their backyard. The use of lots of greenery in planter boxes, 44-gallon drums as well as vintage fittings showcase the history of the site as a mechanical workshop and petrol station.

Why should locals and visitors come to Sunshine Social?

It’s a great place to bring old friends and to meet new ones.

What makes Sunshine Social stand out from other eateries?

We cook over smoking hot charcoal which imparts a truly unique flavour. 

Sunshine Social
What is your favourite item on the menu? 

You just can’t go past the BBQ chicken. The smokiness of the charcoal, the secret marinade that our head chef Leicester uses, and top quality free-range chicken creates a mouth-watering combination.

What is the most popular item on the menu? 

The burgers, hands down. We offer a great range of burgers — beef, chicken, fish and a vego option of green pea falafel. Who doesn’t like a good burger? They’re all served with chips and Leicester’s ‘Sunshine Seasoning’. 

What made Sunshine West the perfect place to start your business?

Sunshine West made a great place to start Sunshine Social because of the gentrification that’s happening and the changing demographics. There are lots of young families looking for casual, affordable dining options and that’s what we offer. 

Do you guys live in the area? 

Gareth lives two minutes away and loves the fact everything is on his doorstep but still only a couple of train stops to the city.

What do you love about Melbourne’s west?

The diversity. There really is something for everyone.

What’s next for you guys?

We have just celebrated Sunshine Social’s first birthday, and we are working hard on keeping the customers coming back for more!

Any final words?

As we say at Sunshine Social — come as you are and come often.

Greg’s favourite local…

Restaurant Pho Hien Saigon in Hampshire Road does a wicked beef pho.

Place to shop Sunshine Market for fresh produce at bargain prices. 

Hidden gem A Taste of Poland on Bell Street. The name says it all.

Sunshine Social
Let the good times roll and check out these local gems before or after your Sunshine Social feast. 

Buckingham Reserve 
The kids will love this epic adventure-themed playground with its towering rocket ship. Buckingham Reserve features a dual flying fox, slides, a water play area, climbing obstacles and plenty of green space for games. Kororoit Creek Trail runs right alongside Buckingham Reserve and is perfect for getting in touch with nature on a walk or bike ride. 

Ace Karts
A little further down Glengala Road from Sunshine Social, you’ll find Australia’s longest and widest go-karting track — Ace Karts. Over 700 metres, you can take on your family and friends in a go-kart race for a thrilling day out that you won’t soon forget. With three different carts including a two-seater, everyone — rookie through to expert — can get behind the wheel. 

Prime Cut Quality Butchers
Feeling inspired by Sunshine Social’s delicious barbecue? Head to nearby Sunshine Marketplace and make a beeline for Prime Cut Quality Butchers. Browse their range of quality meats — the lamb cutlets come highly recommended — to create your own barbecue feast at home. 

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