From kebab stop to urban park

The site of a kebab van immortalised by Anthony Bourdain will become Brunswick’s newest open space

Town Hall Kebab shortly before its closure in September 2018. Photo: Lester Wilson

Mark Phillips
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

TO many people, 260 Sydney Road in Brunswick will simply be known as the place to get a late night kebab.

The mostly vacant site opposite the Brunswick Town Hall was for many years home to a small white food truck that provided vital nourishment on the way home after a big session at the pub.

Now Moreland Council has new designs for the empty block with plans to convert the 543 sq m space into a small urban park.

Town Hall Kebab was evicted in 2018 after a nasty dispute with the neighbouring Anglican Church. Moreland Council then bought the site from the church in March last year for just under $3.2 million, having already earmarked it for its ‘A Park Close To Home’ program.

‘A Park Close To Home’ is a long term plan to provide more open space in the City of Moreland so that all residents live within 500 metres walking distance of a park or open space.

The $9.5 million plan was adopted by the council in 2017 and has slowly taken shape, with the most recent milestone being the opening of the Bulleke-bek Park alongside the Upfield Bike Path in January.

Another space, named Garrong Park, at 55–61 Tinning Street on the western side of the Upfield railway line, is due to open in May.

Development of the space at 260 Sydney Road will take two years, with the timeline for the new park to open in November 2023.

But it will operate as a temporary pop up park from May this year with a community consultation process to gather ideas for the best use of the space.

One early suggestion, posted on the Conversations Moreland website, is for a sculpture to be commissioned within the park in honour of Vida and Vic Little, who were instrumental in the campaign to save the Brunswick Town Hall from demolition in the 1970s.

The space at 260 Sydney Road was occupied by Town Hall Kebab and by a car handwashing business for about a decade until September 2018.

Many a hungry late night reveller consumed a kebab on the white benches there during that time.

It became so famous that the late American food writer Anthony Bourdain visited the shop during an episode of his No Reservations television show in 2009.

But the kebab shop was evicted by the neighbouring Christ Church in 2018 after continuing to trade six months beyond the expiry of its permit. The church bought the site for $3 million in March 2017, and sold to the council three years later for $3.2 million.

Property records show it has changed hands four times since 1977, when it was bought for just $86,000.