Interview: Talking burgers, consistency, and COVID-19 with Easey’s co-owner Jimmy Hurlston

It’s been five years since the man who literally wrote the book on burgers opened up an the ambitious Easey’s in the eternally hip Melbourne suburb of Collingwood. The multi-storey building, topped by sightly repurposed train carriages, has since become the preeminent spot for no-fuss burgers in the city and has remained so until this day. Jimmy Hurlston and co-owners Phil Martin and Jeremy Gaschk landed on a concept that strikes to the very heart of Melbourne’s casual eats scene – a good product, a great, sociable venue, and more than a few authentic nods to the city’s dynamic and definitive culture of street art.

In celebrating their 5th birthday, we caught up with Hurlston who discusses Easey’s opening, how hard it is to maintain consistency, and the impact of COVID-19. He also gives us a bit more insight into the limited edition jam doughnut in partnership with delivery service DoorDash, which Hurlston has cooked up to celebrate the collaboration and give people something new when they head on back in for their post-iso feed.

Five years is an incredible feat for any restaurant. What do you think made Easey’s such a hit for the Melbourne crowd?

Thank you very much mate. I’m pretty sure you popped in fairly shortly after we opened too. I think it has become a cult figure, an institution because it encapsulates the essence of Melbourne street culture. It’s got authentic graffiti, by that I mean it has graffiti from real painters who pioneered the art form as well as some that have come up since. Add that to the fact we have an old Melbourne train carriage (Hitachi) and we begin to capture what people love about Melbourne. I guess the burgers help a bit too.

Though you’ve had plenty of experience with burgers before you opened the joint, is there anything Easey’s has taught you about what makes a good burger?

Easey’s has taught me to be very humble about reviewing other people’s burgers. I know how hard it is to make burgers but it is even harder again to make them consistently; then you need to be able to make them consistently and teach to others for them to make them consistently. Throughout this process you are relying on the consistency of your suppliers and your equipment. This game is hard!

“The only thing I can’t seem to get rid of is the salad that people keep wanting on their burgers.”

How has Easey’s changed from when it first opened to now, anything unexpected?

To be honest, Easey’s is closer now to my vision of what I wanted for it than it ever has been before. I finally got the buns I wanted. I am making patties the way that I wanted to make them. We are far more consistent. We are more efficient. The only thing I can’t seem to get rid of is the salad that people keep wanting on their burgers.

“I do not know how long it will take to get back to somewhere near what we had before but I hope it’s not too long.”

COVID-19 has obviously impacted just about every business. How has this period been for Easey’s?Tell me about this jam doughnut you’ve made and why you chose it to mark the 5th birthday.

People have been asking us to do J Doughies for years. DoorDash’s major brand colour is red so we decided that worked as a symbol of the partnership for this give away. It’s not really a representation of our 5 years, more a token of gratitude to our customers for their support and for entering our giveaway.

For more info on Easey’s head along to their official website here, and for more burger porn than your mind can possibly handle head on over to their Instagram here.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy-Editor-At-Large of the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.

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