Icons of the Industry

Interview: France Soir & Sensory Lab

We are sending our love to all as we navigate through this crazy year. Especially our friends in the hospitality industry, the industry James Richardson Furniture was built on back in 1956. We interviewed two of our favourite entrepreneurs a couple of months ago to discuss the secrets to a venue’s longevity, inspiration and how they are overcoming the incredibly difficult challenges this year continues to throw at them.



On February 20, 1986 France-Soir Restaurant was established by Jean-Paul Prunetti and Yvon Vogel; partners in an enterprise neither imagined would endure as it has. The partnership lasted until March 1988 when Yvon returned to France.

Starting his career in Paris as an apprentice waiter in 1964, aged 14 it is no surprise that Jean-Paul achieved great success creating a smaller version of the great Parisienne brasserie.

Whilst remaining true to the restaurants original philosophy, patrons and the changing times have had a great influence on the menu content.

Full every night, busy over lunch and a de rigeur dinner spot in certain local circles; bustling, noisy France-Soir has the panache of a Parisian bistro.

Our founder David Mandie was a regular at France-Soir, and so too are his family Evelyn and Georgia Danos. A tradition passed down by generations. JRF are so proud to have supplied the original bentwood Chair 14’s to France- Soir in 1986. Since opening, the chairs have required only one lot of repairs, in 1995. “This is the way it should be. When I buy something, I expect it to last” said Jean-Paul in conversation with Georgia, “They don’t go out of fashion”.



Georgia Danos: France-Soir opened on February 20, 1986, can you reveal the secret to success and longevity in the hospitality industry?

Jean-Paul: Focus and a great deal of personal sacrifice


What does the classic France-Soir experience look/feel like?

Controlled mayhem. It is all about the ambiance – the theatre, the atmosphere.  The interaction between the customer and wait staff is extremely crucial to creating the perfect night.


How did your business pivot and adapt during the Covid-19 lockdown?

We decided to offer delivery / takeaway.  We had to cut down the classic menu selecting items best suited to travel.  This meant the short-term loss of some of the favourite!  In saying this, there are the odd favourites that have crept back onto the menu as the demand outweighed all else!! One of these has been the crème brulée!


What can we expect to see from France-Soir following the lockdown?

No changes in store, more of the same as per popular demand!


Jean-Paul Prunetti (pictured above).


France Soir
11 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141
03 9866 8569
To make a reservation please call the restaurant.



Sensory Lab 

Sensory Lab is focused on helping its customers find new ways to appreciate coffee. From offering a variety of brewing methods or walking customers through a series of sensory tests with tasting notes, to providing the hardware for coffee at home, it’s out to change the way we enjoy a brew.

Famed entrepreneur Salvatore Malatesta is a pioneer of Melbourne’s coffee and culture scene and the founder of St Ali and Sensory Lab.

Sensory Lab can be found in several locations across Melbourne and Sydney.


Salvatore Malatesta (pictured above).


Georgia Danos: What inspired you to begin Sensory Lab? Talk us through the history of your brand?

Salvatore Malatesta: Simply, it was born from a desire to elevate the quality of coffee consumption and bring the idea of drinking coffee with a mental state of mindful consumption.


What does a typical Sensory Lab experience look/feel like?

Lab meets rough luxe meets elegance.  However, no two stores are the same.  We localise design and look for inspiration from surrounds.


We recently collaborated on your beautiful new Sydney Sensory Lab, designed by Studio 11:11 with the Dejavu Chair 378 by TON. Can you talk us through your vision for this location?

David Jones is a brand partner and committed to artisans and best in category operations.  This newly renovated DJ store is beautiful and committed to elevating the shopper experience.  With the view over Hyde Park it just made so much sense.


Image by: Nicholas Wilkie


How did your business pivot and adapt during the Covid-19 lockdown?

Well. I am almost embarrassed to say but we rode the worlds largest hand sanitiser wave ever.  These sales helped provide the room to make further pivots. We turned our mothership into one large general store with thoughtful provisions.


What can we expect to see from Sensory Lab post Covid-19?

More beautiful stores in beautiful locations.



Sensory Lab
Inside David Jones, LVL2/86-108 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000
Walk ins only.


Share the article

Similar articles

Five minutes with Alexander &CO.

Five minutes with Jeremy Bull

The Alexander &CO. Edit

With Jeremy Bull, Founder of Alexander &CO.

Five minutes with Hayball

Five minutes with Bianca Hung

The Hayball Edit

With Bianca Hung

Habitus House of the Year

Design Insights

Designing the Future of Hospitality

Melbourne Design Week 2020

5 Minutes with Hecker Guthrie

5 Minutes with Paul Hecker & Hamish Guthrie