Melbourne’s vibrant epicentre, Chapel Street Precinct, is a culmination of rich cultures and experiences dating back decades. There is an intrinsic, underlying, but palpable heartbeat that exists here. It is like nowhere else in this city, a true melting pot. A colourful community that is its heartbeat.

A place is only as vibrant as its people.

Rediscover these very people and the places we most associate with this beautiful area. That spirited bunch who often fly under the radar but deserve recognition as those responsible for building a community that’s utterly unique.

In this series, we pay homage to the original custodians of local commerce and culture by bringing them together into a melting pot of memories for ‘The Soul of Chapel’. Watch the campaign’s trailer below for a sneak peak of the captivating vignettes to come.

These are their stories — stories captured to present these businesses and people as bloody heroes – custodians that make our culture what it is. A collective that makes Chapel Street Precinct the most interesting corner of Melbourne. We want to show how we view them and in doing so remind the rest of the world that we’re still here. We’re still alive, pivoting and kicking.

And we are back stronger than before, united.

This is The Soul of Chapel. 

GREVILLE RECORDS

ALISON’S CORNER SHOP & BREAD, (est. 2007)

ROSENBERG SHOES, (est. 1903)

SOPHIA AT THE PRAHRAN ARCADE, (built 1890)

CAFFE E CUCINA, (est. 1988)

FOOL CLOTHING, (est. 1997)

118 Greville St, Prahran
A 25 year fixture of Greville Street that feels as fresh as any shop on the strip. Behind a secret curtain of clothes, the stairs lead to Rowena’s studio upstairs. Which feels like you’re stepping inside the heart of her creativity – patterns, samples, fabrics to recycle, works in progress. It’s like you’ve been given the keys to her mind and you can walk around in it.⁠ ⁠ Her child Pep’s first birthday coincided with Rowena opening Fool. And now, all these years later, Pep sits upstairs in the studio helping design the amazing creations that fill the store.⁠

DAVID’S RESTAURANT, (est. 1999)

4 Cecil Pl, Prahran
David’s Restaurant was est. in 1999. It’s one of Melbourne’s hidden treasures, awarded ten Chef’s Hats by The Age Good Food Guide and has been named in the Top 50 Best Chinese Restaurants outside of China! David was raised on Nanjing Road, one of the busiest streets in Shanghai. As a child, he would wake up well before dawn, lured out the door by the smell of freshly prepared wonton soup. He would tiptoe past his sleeping mother and ride his bike into the heart of Shanghai to visit the street vendors for breakfast. The philosophy behind David’s is: good food not only nourishes the body, it nourishes the soul.⁠

TERRY BENNETT’S BOXING GYMNASIUM, (est. 1959)

1/259 Chapel Street, Prahran
Terry Bennett’s Boxing Gymnasium is Melbourne’s oldest gym, established in 1959. The everyman gym. The antithesis to the flashy, hip glitz of gyms across the world. Unchanged and proven. Walls full of stories, of sweat, family and character. A real gym for real people, with no joining fees, unbeatable prices and a friendly atmosphere. Open all day, every day.

Established by muscleman Terry Bennett, “Mr Melbourne 1961”. Famed for his dedication to his trade, he worked and lived at the gym, 365 days a year. Another of his claims to fame was his Australian record for the number of medicine ball sit-ups ever accomplished in a row, an incredible 20,000. This feat took Terry some 20 hours.

Today the gym is owned and managed by Terry’s son, Stuart Bennett. He proudly facilitates peoples fitness goals, but also feels as much a part of the tapestry as the walls themselves. Talking to Stuart, it feels as if no one else on earth could be running this particular gym but him.

CHAPELLI’S, (est. 1979)

571 Chapel St, South Yarra
There’s no place like home. Except perhaps your favourite age-old Chapel Street institution, Chapelli’s. The same one that welcomes you with open arms and piping hot macaroni at 2 am when you’re all macarena-ed out. You can take it from us, Chapelli’s has vowed never to close again. An institution on not only Chapel Street, but the entire Melbourne restaurant scene. Thank you for being the best fully licensed 24-hour joint on Chaps. 

Chapel Tattoo, (est. 1994)

155 Chapel St, Windsor
Chapel Tattoo was stamped onto the bod of Chapel Street more than two decades ago, and we’ve had no regrets yet. Just like the art it creates, Chapel Tattoo is a beloved permanent fixture in our precinct. No amount of virus can wipe this ink away.

Chapel Street Pawnbrokers, (est. 1973)

378 Chapel St, South Yarra
One man’s beloved bike is another’s street stallion. Just ask the brothers at The Chapel Street Pawnbrokers, Victoria’s oldest family run pawnshop. They’re all about giving new life to beloved old bits. And the three generations of pawnbrokers have continued to breathe life into Chapel Street Precinct for the last 48 years!

Tusk Cafe Bar, (est. 2000)

133 Chapel St, Windsor
Times may change, but your favourite local hasn’t. And that’s the beauty of Tusk Cafe Bar – it’ll always be pouring, flipping and serving the goods you love. Tusk is like nowhere else – it’s a community within a community, a hub within a hub. Is there a more iconic spot on Chaps when the sun is out to sit outside on the corner and watch the world go by?

Union Heights, (est. 2015)

136 Chapel St, Windsor
Here’s a taste of the kind of urban culture entrenched in Melbourne’s Chapel Street — a little place called Union Heights. When asked about Windsor, owner Frank said, “It has this duality of existence.” He continued, “For me it is more than just a retail store. It is a cultural meeting place for people that are into the hip hop scene.”

Cato Fruit & Vegetables, (est. 2008)

10-12 Cato St, Prahran
Chapel Street has long been considered a big pocket of fresh produce in Melbourne – Cato Fruit & Vegetables has jam-packed shelves of the good stuff, ripe for the picking. Cato is charming and has an unrivalled character, just being in there for 30 mins and seeing the people who come in to shop, you realise that even in an area as big as Chapel Street Precinct, Cato has a distinctly local feel. They wholesale to a lot of local businesses, which makes them even more entrenched in the community, and adds a sense of support to other local businesses.

OneSixOne, (est. 1999)

161 High St, Prahran
OneSixOne was started by Andy and Hank. People know OneSixOne from all over the world – it’s that iconic. People like Rod Stewart, Kylie Minogue, celebrity chefs, tennis players and all sorts have been there. They’ve managed to stay true to themselves and relevant across decades, by doing what they think is right, and putting a huge emphasis on the right music, and the right staff. Generations of families go there. Some of OneSixOne’s first customers’ children now come. People who frequented the club in their late-teens, still visit in their 40’s – it’s an iconic location where many people have made some of their best memories.

Brother Wolf, (est. 2015)

110 Greville St, Prahran
Brother Wolf is a Prahran institution – it’s fun, welcoming and everyone loves their job. The vibe is a reflection of the greater area, the same one that Paddy says he gets from his favourite coffee shop, and bars. Owner Paddy’s visa was about to expire when he literally bumped into a guy on Greville Street, and they got chatting. He had just bought the shopfront opposite to where Brother Wolf now sits, and Paddy told him he would be keen to manage it but would need a sponsor. A deal was struck and the rest is history. Sadly, he passed away, but Paddy often thinks it was ‘an angel sent’ to set him on this path.

Red Drum Music Studios, (est. 2010)

114 Chatham St, Prahran
Red Drum Music Studios has been marching to the beat of its own drum since it first opened its doors in Prahran 11 years ago. Started by wife and husband, Sarah and Darren, they just love the community around them. They says it’s cross-generational and eclectic, and despite ongoing change, that always remains.

Red Square Shoe Repair, (est. 2003)

325 Chapel St, Prahran
Red Square Shoe Repair and Efim who owns and runs the shop is a nostalgic and romantic reference to a different era – hands on craft and problem solving are at the core of what he does. He has been there for 17 years. It’s beautiful that in a world of cutting edge technology and quick fixes, that there is still room for this considered approach and personalised service. With changing time, he says “you can’t just quit.”

Pets Wonderland, (est. 1972)

184 Chapel St, Prahran
Today’s Pets Wonderland was 49 years in the making and is home to (some of) Chapel Street’s wild animals. It was passed down from mother Diana to daughter Mikaela in 2004, who has continued to preserve the shop’s spirit. People enter Pet’s Wonderland to find some small solace amidst a stressful day. ‘It’s always been a place for people to come and decompress’, said Mikaela, ‘particularly during the lockdowns.’

Sam & Ko, (est. 1993)

465 Chapel St, South Yarra
In the words of Sam himself – why be treated like a customer when you could be treated like a King or Queen? Sam started Sam & Ko and has been in the same zone for 28 years. The business is Sam. It is his personality and relationship with customers that makes Sam & Ko what it is.

Yellow Bird, (est. 2007)

122 Chapel St, Windsor
Yellow Bird cafe embodies the spirit of the area – raw, fun and laid back. The food is comfort food, the drinks are fun, and they want it to be a place free of judgement. Dean used to live down the street and Clint is the drummer in Something For Kate. Both were just out to dinner and decided that they wanted to start a bar – they had no experience whatsoever. They just wanted to create a place for their friends to have good food and beer. Yellow Bird really is Windsor. The face of what has occurred down that end would be different without them on the corner.

Arthur Galan, (est. 1998)

568 Chapel St, South Yarra
Arthur opened Arthur Galan in 1998, behind his business is a story that is entrenched in the history of the area, with connections that run deep. His mother had an alterations business around the corner in South Yarra over 40 years ago. He is one of the most accoladed designers in Australia, and fittingly, his mum still makes alterations above his store.

Uniting Prahran, (est. 1946)

211 Chapel St, Prahran
Originally Prahran Mission – a response to postwar poverty, which has existed in the same spot for over 70 years – Uniting Prahran was formed in 2017. It’s a centre point for people who need assistance across the area – a hub to help people.

SOME OF CHAPEL’S BEST LONG-STANDING INSTITUTIONS

Body Vision Piercing

Est. 2009

Caterpillar Boutique

Est. 1982

Soda Rock Diner

Est. 1994 & the best American diner themed restaurant on Chaps!

Caffe e Cucina

Est. 1988.

Shag Windsor

Est. 1996.

Chasers Nightclub

Est. 1978.

Greville-Records Christmas Shopping

Greville Records

Est. 1978. One of Melbourne's oldest record stores.

The Union Hotel

Est. 1856.

Chapel Street Bazaar

Est. 1985. Melbourne's oldest second hand/antique store.

Rosenberg Shoes

Est. 1903. A fourth generation shop.

Revolver Upstairs

Est. 1997. One of Australia's most famous Nightclubs.

Prahran Market

Est. 1864. Melbourne’s oldest market.

This program is made possible by the support of the Victorian State Government and the City of Stonnington.

THE LATEST

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Whether you're celebrating a special event, in need of a cheeky hair of the dog or just feel like taking the edge off before lunchtime (it's midday somewhere right?) - there's an array of boozy brunch options for you in Chapel Street Precinct Melbourne.

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Before this article had even started we could feel the Melburnian eyes of judgment piercing through their screens. Coffee is quite possibly THE most important part of our lives. Get your Chapel Street Precinct caffeine relief!

Winners Announced!

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Chapel Street Precinct shone a much deserved spotlight on its world-class businesses by once again holding its coveted public voted Chapel Champion Awards 🏆. YOU voted and the very best businesses across our beloved precinct have been crowned. To see which local legends took out the 15 categories, click here.

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So you've swiped right and matched - got through the awkward messaging stage and locked in a first date. Or maybe you've been together for a while and love to keep the fire alive with regular date nights. Below you'll find everything you need to crush a romantic date on Chapel.

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The walls of Chapel Street Precinct house some of Melbourne's most epic street art. Weave through back alleys, dodge cars and trip on uneven cobbles to see one of the best things about living and visiting Chapel Street.