Merivale has announced exciting plans to evolve ivy’s laneway precinct and George Street presence with four new bars and eateries to open this year.
The expansion signals a new phase in the evolution of the iconic precinct, as CEO Justin Hemmes focuses his attention towards reinvigorating Sydney’s status as a world-class metropolis.
The project will begin with the July launch of Little Felix, a sister bar to the hatted French bistro on Ash Street, followed by a Middle Eastern concept and Mexican eatery and bar on George Street, and a Totti’s-inspired Italian eatery and bar on Palings Lane. It coincides with the opening of George Street’s multi-million-dollar pedestrianisation, which is part of the most significant reshaping to ever take place in Sydney, together with the City of Sydney’s push for a 24-hour CBD.
This phase of Merivale’s ‘ivy 2.0’ project is the first step of an ambitious and daring vision to ultimately redevelop the site - a concept that Hemmes describes as “centred around how we eat, drink, socialise, communicate and work together in this city”. Whilst the ultimate redevelopment is in the lengthy planning phase, Merivale’s interim focus is on the ivy of today and creating a neighbourhood of around-the-clock hospitality that will flow from the Merivale properties in George Street, through the chic, historic walkways of Paling Lane and Ash Street.
Merivale will transform several sites from retail outlets into vibrant hospitality concepts, taking the total number of ivy laneway offerings to twelve. The vision is to activate and energise that part of the CBD after 6.00pm, “encouraging a diverse night-time economy that echoes the 24-hour sophistication and fun of the best places around the world”, says Hemmes. “Somewhere that ebbs and flows as life does, where 70-year-old best friends can be enjoying espresso martinis alongside 20-somethings exploring a wine list. Warm, inclusive, organic interaction and enjoyment, which is something all world-class cities excel at”.
Little Felix, a sophisticated and intimate 60-seater cocktail bar, will open beside Felix next month. Head Chef Nathan Johnson has designed a simple French-inspired menu centred around charcuterie and cheese, paired beautifully with French wine served by the glass and classic cocktails. This is where “you go for a deep conversation over wine and lose track of time”, says Hemmes.
Also launching over the next year will be an Italian bar concept, inspired by Totti’s, Merivale’s much-loved eatery at The Royal Bondi. The incarnation at ivy is built around what Hemmes describes as “the concept of sharing, eating, drinking, celebrating life and connections with people”. Mike Eggert will be on the tools, serving up his famed wood- fired bread and antipasto.
There will be a casual Lebanese eatery and bar opposite Wynyard Station on George Street, led by Head Chef Simon Zalloua. Split into two offerings - takeaway at the front and a lively bar and diner serving drinks and mezze- shared plates out the back – the concept will be vegetarian-heavy with a big emphasis on legumes, vegetables and dishes coming off the charcoal grill.
“We want to create a destination buzzing with people having a having fantastic time”, says Hemmes. “Middle Eastern food has stunning flavours and an amazing vibe. It’s all about sharing and enjoying yourself with others”.
A Mexican eatery is also in the works, joining ivy’s impressive portfolio of exciting laneway concepts including: Bar Topa, Lorraine’s Patisserie, The Bottle Shop and Palings Flowers on Palings Lane; Felix and Ash St. Cellar on Ash Street; and The Royal George and Will & Co on George Street.
Further details on the opening of Little Felix, and the other three concepts, will be announced soon.