For 43 years, the van Haandel family’s vibrant, late night restaurant and home delivery service has been responsible for shaping Bendigo’s social landscape.
Still owned and managed by the van Haandel family, co-founder Martin van Haandel’s youngest son Michael is now at the Clogs’ helm after crafting his trade at the iconic Stokehouse Restaurant, Nobu London and as restaurant manager at Longrain Melbourne, while maintaining the Clogs philosophy, ensuring everyone feels at home in the venue.
“We like to believe that we are suitable to anyone, but really I think Clogs is perfect for anyone who just wants a fun night out with great food, great drinks and some buzz in the atmosphere. We see all ages come through our doors, young people on a big night out, older people after the theatre,” he says. “Couples in for an intimate dinner, young families with kids, pumped up sporting groups, you name it, we see it. If you want to laugh loud and not feel out of place, or don’t want the stress of trying to keep the kids quiet, Clogs is for you.”
Whilst the Clogs hospitality recipe will never change (the original pizza base recipe is still being used daily, and Grandma’s secret chocolate mousse is a menu staple), locals and visitors alike have been watching the intriguing transformation of the dining institution into a new phase of vibrancy.
“The pizza is the same original recipe that my father and his brothers created when they opened more than 40 years ago. That’s a testament to how good they are,” Michael says. “We also boast Bendigo’s first Gourmet pizza range when we launched it all those years ago. We like to mix our traditions with seriously good a la carte. Our head chef Brent Loam knows exactly what he is doing and has worked in some of the best venues in Melbourne and overseas. On the Clogs menu, you’ll find both comfort food like pasta and interesting flavours.”
For Clogs’ traditionalists, the ‘Clogs Special’, ‘Super Supreme’ and Bendigo’s first gourmet pizza range from past decades are still on the menu, while for the experimentalists, Clogs offer early week winter specials to keep you warm with the option of home delivery.
“I think in winter people are happy to keep it simple, a bowl of pasta and a beer, steak and Shiraz, we try to create a great deal that we know the majority of our customers will be keen on,” he says, “Obviously not everyone will venture out into the cold, so the free home delivery means the homebodies and hermits are cared for too.”
As for the beverage offering, Clogs likes to mix the classics and the modern, with a range of cocktails on the menu – and even Frose!
“We’re serious about our booze, the wine list is hand-picked by me, the cocktails are well made, interesting and balanced, and we like to change up the selection regularly,” he says. “My brother Wayne manages another venue in Byron Bay and is always on the lookout for new products and trends, so between us we can keep things exciting.”
Clogs is currently in the final stages of their six month renovations, but are always one to stand out from the crowd, with the exterior of the Clogs building in Pall Mall being a bright shade of blue-green and pays respect to the architecture designed by William Vahland. Inside, Clogs has been re-energised by one of the country’s most notable interior artists, Christo Gillard, with an artistic reflection to Bendigo’s iconic landmark The Conservatory, located nearby.
Clogs welcome the next generation of pizza, pasta, and late night enthusiasts to take their place at the bar.
“It’s amazing how many people tell us they had their first date here, or met their future wife over a Clogs Special – it’s a great place to be and to kick back with friends, we’re still open until 2am on Saturday nights, so if nightclubs aren’t your thing but you’re not ready to go home just yet Clogs is the place to be.”
You can find Clogs at 106 Pall Mall, Bendigo. Alternatively, you can check out their website, or give them a call on 5443 0077.
Written by Talia Rinaldo