Words by Teyha Nicholls Images Supplied
East Gippsland has never been known for its Latin American dining scene, but there’s a new restaurant setting out to change all that.
Arturo’s Latin Cuisine Restaurant is busting open the repertoire with authentic Peruvian, Argentinian and Colombian dishes for lunch and dinner. Charcoal-grilled meat plates and tapas with traditional spices have been flying out of the kitchen for one month now, something owner Mark Wheeldon couldn’t be happier about — both professionally and personally.
“I left [Gippsland] at 19 and returned at 54. I was sort of semi-retired when I saw this venue and contacted my friend, Arturo, who is a Peruvian chef. I said to him, “c’mon we’re going to start up a restaurant,” Mark explains.
Arturo, who emigrated from Peru six years ago, was cooking in the RACV City Club kitchen before the pandemic hit. But like many other venues, customer shortages during 2020 meant several staff were forced to find other work so Arturo found a job in a factory. Fast forward two years and the duo are breaking new ground by building one of Gippsland’s finest Latin American restaurants.
We don’t call it a restaurant, we call it a venue. It’s somewhere people come to experience some nice food, to chat with friends. There’s a certain sort of ambience to it.
That ambience was designed by Mark’s niece, an interior designer with an intimate knowledge of what makes a venue sing. The team completely renovated what once was an uninspired 1960’s brick shopfront into a modern, glass-fronted restaurant with subtle homages to Latin America. The space feels bright yet warm, spacious yet cosy and, of course, the lake view is the hero.
“Arturo’s is all about helping out a friend, giving me something to do and also doing something unique in Paynesville. And that’s what we’ve done.”
WHAT: Arturo’s Latin Cuisine Restaurant
WHERE: 59 Esplanade, Paynesville
WHEN: Thursday – Sunday 10:30 am –9:00 pm
MORE INFO: Arturo’s Latin Cuisine Restaurant
We wish to acknowledge the Gunaikurnai people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.