Mixing cars with pleasure proves an ideal blend

MELBOURNE has long been famous for the breadth and depth of its multi-cultural food and wine culture, with quality offerings in bars and restaurants ranging from the basic to the brilliant. It’s a tough place to impress in a market which has come to expect nothing less than world-class produce, service and – particularly in Melbourne – vibe.

So it’s impressive that one relative Collins St newcomer has been shooting the lights out across the board despite the fact its main business is not cocktails and caviar, but cars. 

The Mercedes me Store in Melbourne is part of a smart Mercedes-Benz global rollout which subtly introduces the automotive brand to an audience which might otherwise have been lured by a stylish space, in this case at the base of the Rialto Tower in Melbourne’s CBD.

Opened in November last year, this was the seventh Mercedes me Store following others in Hamburg, Munich, Moscow, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Beijing. Each of them have been styled around the city in which they reside, which may explain why so many Melbournites seem to be drawn to this one.

Lunches are often packed, according to Mercedes-Benz brand specialist Matt Bruce, and Friday nights have seen a regular crowd beat a path through the doors as a kick-start to the weekend.

Bruce says the venue is on track to record 100,000 visitors since launch by the time the siren sounds for the AFL grand final in late September. 

No, he’s not at all surprised by the success of the place, Bruce says in response to our question about the uptake. What is it with these Mercedes-Benz people? They seem to have an almost sect-like belief that “if they build it, people will come”, whether we’re talking cars or – now – cuisine.

Things certainly seem to be working out for the group. On the automotive front, it achieved record levels of sales and revenue last year, and the Mercedes me stores are always breaking out something fresh to attract new interest. 

Its latest local effort sees the place open for an all-day breakfast on the first Saturday of each month – from 8am until 2pm – starting next weekend (August 4). Of course, it won’t just be about the food and coffee provided by local stalwart ST. ALi. This first weekend sees Mercedes collaborating with design blog The Design Files to present local artist Tammy Kanat in an already fully-subscribed Meet the Maker event.

Don’t despair, however, as there’s always a car in store to look over, sometimes something high-performance, other times, something more tame. The inaugural “Saturdays with me” event will showcase a Jupiter-red Mercedes-AMG GT R, one of the more high-octane members of the brand’s lineup. 

If that doesn’t blow your hair back, gamers or people who like interactivity can also test their skills on the AMG GT3 driving simulator or learn about some of the iconic Mercedes-Benz vehicles on an interactive model car.

Looking ahead for future Saturdays, the G-Wagon will be back on show for the  September 1 event, followed by a week-long retrospective of “Stars and cars”  in the Rialto’s atrium featuring some famous images of people of note with Mercedes-Benz vehicles over the brand’s history in October. 

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