It’s not easy taking something that is well-established and well-loved, and completely flipping it on its head, but for Dorothy Lee, it was all about staying true to the idea. Dorothy Lee, who prefers to be called, Dot and partner, Jarrod Walsh took over Hartsyard, from founder Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart. At the time, Hartsyard was an institution for North American fried chicken and cheese poutine. When Dot and Jarrod took the reigns, it became a light, airy venue for fresh seafood and vegetables.
“People had no idea what we were trying to do. We even had them ask for the previous style of cuisine. At first, we were worried. Were we doing the wrong thing? Was this all about to collapse on us, but then our mindset changed? We believed in ourselves, our idea, and the vision we had to bring this restaurant to life,” said Dot.
That they did. Hartsyard was an Enmore Road staple, with a weekly changing menu, dependent on seasonal produce and all-around, no-waste philosophy. Locals and visitors flocked to Hartsyard for a wholesome meal. Jarrod and Dot became the face of pushing boundaries in hospitality. Then in 2022, they announced Hartsyard was closing. Although, soon after, Dot and Jarrod declared their next journey, Longshore.
“Similar to Hartsyard, we want to highlight fresh seasonal produce that is sustainably farmed and harvested,” said Dot. “You can expect a seafood-driven, coastal-inspired restaurant, with a few favourites from the Hartsyard menu.”
Dot began her food journey at a young age, inspired by her move from Hong Kong to Australia. She not only fell in love with wholesome food but was fascinated with new methods of cooking. She started her career as a pastry chef at Intercontinental Sydney, before honing her craft at hatted restaurants, Ms Gs in Potts Point and Momofuku Seiobo, which was formerly located in Pyrmont.
“You need to be resilient in this industry,” Dot explains. “You won’t get anywhere with self-doubt. At the end of the day, you need to remind yourself you’re good enough.”
As Dot explains, females in particular are often questioned, not only in the industry but in general. “We are questioned in a passive-aggressive way that can sometimes make us feel like we are not doing a good job,” she said. “That’s why we need to be self-confident.”
Dot explains she has experienced discrimination over her career. “There were times when comments were made towards me that weren’t work-related. That happens quite often.” Although, with all the bad comes good. “I have amazing male mentors and male industry friends, so it’s not all bad.”
It was her experiences and her resilience that allowed Dot to stay true to her ideas and her visions. During the pandemic, Dot learned to be flexible. “I never thought about doing takeaway until the day it was the only option,” she said. “I learned how to do takeaway and how to operate front of house.” It’s about keeping an open mind about the situation.
Over the past five years, restaurants have started to shift. Some offer tasting menus, others focus on only a handful of dishes, and most adopt seasonal menus. According to Dot, at Longshore, she has implemented a 10-course snack flight. “I realised I never liked to eat a proper meal when I’m catching up with my friends. I liked to snack,” she said. That’s when Dot realised the snack menu would be perfect for after-work drinks. “People can catch up, have a nibble, a glass of wine, then still go out for dinner, or go home.” Even if they are still hungry, they can always add on from the a la carte menu, she said.
Longshore is slated to open in mid-April, taking over Automata’s old spot, in the Old Clare Hotel. Regarding the name, Dot revealed it was the work of a Netherlands designer she hired. “We explained to him what we wanted and our vision which was to use produce from the coastal line. He said, Longshore, and we fell in love with it.”
“I honestly can’t wait to have fun with my guests again. I hope to sustain the community spirit we had from the Inner West, but bring it to Chippendale.”