"Where's the food hall?" I asked one of the waiters behind the counter. "It used to be right here." I was just inside the Little Bourke Street entrance one hot afternoon in January.
"There's no food hall, only this cafe," he replied, puzzled. He was putting a giant hedge of bean sprouts on one of those baguette things and they overflowed onto the large white plate. "But there's another cafe on the third floor," he added. I didn't want another cafe. I wanted the Myer Food Hall.
Another waiter interposed, helpfully. "Oh. You must be thinking of the David Jones food hall. It's over there," he added, pointing in the general direction of the Bourke Street mall, as if I were a lost Swedish tourist here for the Australian Open.
I wasn't thinking of the David Jones food hall at all, but it was nice to see a major department store sending customers straight to its competitor. Perhaps it was a sign of retailers, usually described in the press as 'embattled', helping each other in the face of online shopping, usually described in the press as an 'onslaught'.
Or perhaps it was just a sign that Myer had made a giant blunder in killing off a department for which it was once so well-known. One of my contacts at their Docklands head office tells me they still get customers looking for the food hall. Some wander down to a darkened Myer Bargain Basement that is no longer there, while other lost souls ride the escalators up to the fifth floor in search of furniture. That department moved to the QV centre in Swanston Street years ago. Goodness knows where men's suits are.