When we sat down with Sarah Baldwin and Jarrod Applebee roughly five days out from the official opening of NUG. General Store, they’re relaxed. There are very few signs of last-minute frenzied activity or frayed nerves, just a lot of laughs and a general sense of excitement.
This sensation of buzzy anticipation is likely shared by numerous Brisbane locals, many of whom have been waiting with bated breath for NUG.’s doors to open since the moment Sarah, Jarrod and fellow co-owner Shane Phillips teased their joint project back in February. To hear Sarah and Jarrod tell it, the process of creating NUG. was relatively smooth sailing – each member of the trio was able to impart a piece of themselves into the very fabric of the concept without any friction.
This was the way they hoped it would go at the outset – a harmonious blending their unique professions, passions and personalities into a cohesive whole. “It represents all of us equally,” Jarrod says of the end result. “It’s a good little bundle of all of us.”
The group’s various tastes and expressions have manifested in a colourful hideaway that boasts charm in spades and an interior footprint bathed in homely charm. Asked to summarise the aesthetic, the crew cheekily describe it as a little bit of Mediterranean villa mixed with a dash of Tasmanian shack – a characterisation given weight via the crazy pave stone floors, pastel yellow walls, timber shelves and potted greenery inside and out.
At the entrance sits NUG.’s tiled deli, salad and sandwich counter, as well as a pantry space overflowing with artisanal goods. Here is where Sarah showcases what she describes as “big, fat flavours” – a stylistic departure from Joy.’s famed brand of innovative fine dining, sure, but prepared and executed with the same kind of skill, care and conscious emphasis on of-the-moment seasonal ingredients.
During the day, expect NUG.’s cabinet to be brimming with sandwiches filled with lamb and capsicum and prawn and crunchy lettuce (think a prawn cocktail in sandwich form), as well as chicken katsu sandos with tonkatsu sauce and dijon mustard, and tofu and miso-pumpkin baguettes.
On the salad front, Sarah is also prepping potato salad with orange zest, a shredded cabbage salad and a gluten-free pasta salad with Mediterranean-style marinated vegetables, with the offering rounded out by crumpets with blueberry and ricotta jam, Jarrod’s own Persian Love Cake and pre-bottled batches of cold-brew coffee (available in black, white and alt-milk options).
NUG.’s providore section features a smorgasbord of pantry fillers that can help form the foundation of a meal or simply be the crucial missing piece for one. In addition to loaves from Danny’s Bread, fresh fruit and veg, boxes of vegan oat mix, jars of gourmet olives, tins of artisanal sea salt, dehydrated citrus, olive oils, passata, pasta, honey, and marmalade, you’ll also find NUG.’s own range of pickled goods on the shelves, labelled Mama Sez’s Nightcap-Sicums, Pappa J’s No Chill-i Oil and Bubba Shane’s Dill-Ish relish.
To the right of this area sits the homewares space, where a communal table is ringed by Jarrod and Shane’s curated range of decorative items, ceramics, tableware and glassware. The duo have canvassed a host of Australian makers and trends they love to pull quirky, playful and eye-catching pieces for NUG.’s constantly evolving retail range.
Shelves are loosely arranged to display thematically connected and complementary pieces in order to make shopping slightly easier – think items that can work together or stand out individually. Amongst the assorted plates, glasses and tea towels, eagle-eyed shoppers will spy table risers from The Wood People, diffuser oils from Black Blaze and fruit-and-veg-shaped candles from Nonna’s Grocer.
Jarrod and Shane see NUG. as being a handy fount of inspiration for those looking to enhance their entertaining capabilities or liven up their living space, with only small runs of items (what you see is what is available) ordered to ensure turnover is high and new items always being available to peruse.
Though there is a sense of demarcation between both halves, Sarah, Jarrod and Shane are eager to see each side bleed into, and inform, the other – with guests free to make themselves comfortable and gather inspiration as they dine amongst the homewares. Moving forward, the NUG. trio are in the process of securing a liquor licence for the site. Joy.’s Oliver Chia is consulting on the wine list, which will favour weird and wonderful drops to be enjoyed alongside cheeses, cured meats and pickles during the early evening or on weekend afternoons.Jump to next article