There is little doubt the character of Bob Sugar was a no-good douche bag in the hit movie Jerry Maguire.
But if there is one thing to love about Bob, it’s that the villainous sport manager’s catchy name provided the inspiration for one of Torquay’s most popular new eateries.
Bob Sugar opened its doors on The Esplanade in October last year and has won a legion of fans thanks to its classy yet casual decor, mouth-watering Asian-fusion menu and carefully crafted wine and cocktail list.
The dynamic duo behind the venue is Patrick Campbell and Broden Orr.
The pair, who bring complementary skills to the table, went into partnership two years ago and are justifiably proud of what they have brought to life with the Bob Sugar brand after closing Señors.
Pat was already tossing around the Bob Sugar concept when Broden, a qualified accountant, joined the Señors team after more than a decade travelling the globe and working as a barman and snowboard instructor.
“I always wanted an Asia-fusion restaurant,” says Pat, who has worked in hospitality since the age of 14 and opened Señors in 2016.
“I lived in Melbourne for a number of years and if I was ever eating out it was at an Asian-fusion restaurant.
“Then about eight years ago the movie Jerry Maguire came on the telly and the character of Bob Sugar, who is Jerry’s sworn enemy, came up and I thought ‘that would be a cool name for a venue’.
“That’s where the vision started.”
Broden loved the idea and, when COVID hit, it provided an ideal time to close Señors and bring Bob to life.
“Gutting it, renovating and starting again turned out to be a really good decision with all the closures (due to COVID),” Broden says.
“We bounced ideas off each other and found the right people to help us.
“We were away and now Bob Sugar is going really well and we are super stoked.”
The pair engaged Alta Design to work on branding, interior design firm Mitchell & Eades to create the 80s-inspired decor and Directitude Management as builders.
The result is a perfect balance of classy city chic and relaxed coastal vibes.
The words “You Complete Me” – a famous line from the movie – take pride of place on the rattan and wood panelled walls inside the venue, alongside an eye-catching original print by renowned Croatian graphic designer Boris Bućan.
A striking green marble bar is a show-stopper, while the expansive booth seats are ideal for enjoying the ocean view.
But the star of this show is the food.
Crowd favourites include the Krispy Kolli, Two Bau’s (lunch menu) and whole baby snapper with a chilli caramel glaze and green papaya salad.
There is a $45 per head four-course Feed Me Menu, while bento boxes, poke plates and lunch bowls are available at lunch for dine-in or takeaway.
Head chef Kelly Jones is working on new lunch and dinner takeaway options.
“We wanted it to be Melbourne-style without being snobby or over the top,” Pat says of the stellar menu.
“It had to be accessible and reasonably priced but still be amazing food that looked incredible.”
The wine list pairs well with the Asian-fusion cuisine, offering drier white wines and light, easy-drinking reds that soothe the chilli on the palette.
Cocktails also take top billing at Bob Sugar including ‘Bob’s Raspberry & Basil Boom Boom’ (gin, elderflower, lemon juice, raspberry shrub, fresh basil, instafoam) and the ‘Y’uzu Serious?’ (gin, kaffir lime, lemon, Peychaud’s bitter, Capi yuzu soda).
“As soon as we opened people were dying to get in there and dying to get out of their houses,” Pat laughs.
“When it was Señors people saw it as a younger person’s drinking venue but now it has opened up to everyone from 18 to 80.
“It’s an amazing location that definitely warrants an amazing venue and we couldn’t be happier with the response from locals and tourists alike.”
Broden agrees and loves hearing locals say it is just what Torquay needed.
“People are really happy to have somewhere like this to dine day and night, to drink and party late at night if you want to,” he says.
“If they are working during the day they can come in, get a quick bite to eat and be out the door in 20 minutes.”
Outdoor heaters are being installed for the winter and, once COVID restrictions ease further, there will be drag queen bingo on weekends and a monthly local wine tasting and degustation evening.
So, what would Bob Sugar himself think of what has been created in his name?
“I think he’d want it to be a bit cheekier, a bit more in your face and a bit more ruthless,” Pat laughs.
“But I think he’d like it and if he ever comes down to Torquay he can definitely drink for free.”
Bob Sugar, at 17 The Esplanade, Torquay, opens seven days a week. Lunch 11.30am-3pm and dinner 5pm-11pm. Bookings for six or more only. Follow the journey on Instagram @bobsugartorquay and visit the website bobsugar.com.au for group bookings or to explore function packages.
Photos: Ed Sloane