The Panama Dining Room is quintessentially Melbourne. It’s a converted warehouse space, that makes for a beautiful Melbourne wedding venue. Just a kilometre from the CBD, you’re so central yet you could feel like you’re anywhere.
Can you tell us a bit about what makes your offering unique?
We are a large, 400 square metre venue with 7 stunning floor-to-ceiling arched windows. Being located on the 3rd floor of a former textile factory, our windows offer stunning views across the Dandenong Ranges, and back towards the CBD skyline. Aside from having amazing aesthetics, our main focus is on quality food and beverages. Our executive chef is a former 2-hat chef, and the quality of food offered is on par with most hatted restaurants in Melbourne. Our beverages match the food, with nothing but amazing wines, spirits, craft beers and cocktails offered. Using the word ‘function’ is nothing but a dirty word in our venue, as we strive to be the market leader in the quality of our food and beverage product.
What are some of the perks of getting married at your venue that couples might not realise?
To start with, being located on the 3rd floor to maximise the view through our iconic windows, couples don’t know that we have a hidden elevator located on Moor Street. We also have a goods lift in the same location, which makes it a dream venue for wedding vendors to bump-in and bump-out. With our pricing, we don’t have a room hire fee, and we don’t charge for wedding ceremonies, which, of course, is a rarity in the world of weddings and events!
How did you get involved with weddings? What was the motivation?
Very easy; I wanted to create a working business model of a wedding and events venue from a well established Melbourne restaurant. I was told it couldn’t be done – you can’t open to the public for dinner and drinks one night, then close the next for a wedding. I have relished this challenge over the past 5 years, and placed equal focus on both sides of our business. One principle that I kept coming back to was this; you need to adapt in this current market, diversify and grow in order to survive. Weddings just became this perfect fit for the style and size of our venue, and the popularity of Panama Dining Room weddings has continued to grow. We now book around 100 dates each year for weddings and events, and on the remaining dates, we simply open for dinner and drinks to the public.
Most commonly asked questions? (Oh, and what are the answers?)
Without doubt, the most commonly asked questions are “can we BYO our own alcohol”, and “can we provide our own caterers” Respectfully, the answer is always a very firm no.
What’s your favourite thing that you’ve seen a couple do at your venue?
Without doubt, utilising one of our gorgeous arch windows as a back-drop to the wedding ceremony is always a favourite of mine. The photo’s that flood social media show this magical side to our venue. And I love how it sets the scene for the amazing reception that follows, as they blend seamlessly together.
What advice would you give to couples currently planning their wedding?
My advice is not so much for the planning side, but more for the actual wedding day. Find some time for just you and your partner to sneak off for a few minutes to embrace and really enjoy that you’re now a married couple.