Kassia and Tristan Grier, of Newrybar hotspot Harvest, have teamed up with Dan Wyllie and Chef Francisco Smoje to form an epicurean powerhouse amongst the local restaurant elite. It was via this group and their diversity of experiences that Barrio was born.
“The concept of Barrio was based around the people,” Tristan explains. “Everyone has free reign. Dan has six years experience in New York, so he brings his great cocktails. Francisco’s from Buenos Aires, so his food is just a part of him. We wouldn’t have done this restaurant if these guys hadn’t been involved, so our story is exactly these guys’ story.”Although the team may technically be colleagues, Tristan feels they would be better described as a family. “That family element has to be there, because it’s a more jovial setting. It’s all about the feeling; it’s how you feel when you walk in, and family and feeling go hand in hand.
”The restaurant fully embraces the laid back and community oriented Byron lifestyle. Barrio is Spanish for neighbourhood, and this name perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere for which the team is striving. “What we feel Barrio’s purpose is really providing somewhere for first and foremost the local community for sharing food, sharing tables and sharing stories. The product that we’re really trying to get across the line is something that people feel very comfortable with. It’s that disarming space, one of those places where you feel like you can go and relax.”
The atmosphere is casual, simple and relaxed, and Barrio has food to match. The menu is characterised by its pared back, authentic Argentinian dishes. “We don’t have anywhere to hide, so [Francisco’s] food is completely produce driven. It’s really hard not to buy amazing local produce in Byron. It’s about developing those relationships with locals that allow you to find the best of the best.” Habitat, the home of Barrio, is the brainchild of another Byron local, Brandon Saul. It is a multi-faceted development accommodating a variety of creative and design based businesses and living spaces. Aiming to facilitate that highly coveted Byron Bay work/life balance and sense of community, Habitat seems the perfect match for the ethos and vision of Barrio.
“[Habitat] approached us because of what we had created in Newrybar. At Harvest, we let the community take ownership of the space, and really start to breathe life in that aspect. Another big selling point for the developers of Habitat was the multi-pronged approach of Harvest, with the bakery, the deli, the restaurant.”And Tristan could not be more grateful to be setting up in the town he calls home. “Every day, I still get smashed in the face by Byron’s beauty. The type of person that comes to Byron Bay is really exciting, and being able to grow our little family, grow ourselves and grow other people within our businesses in a place like Byron Bay, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”