“Opening restaurants is what we do,” says restaurateur Chris Lucas, announcing the launch of Grill Americano, an all-day restaurant he plans to launch in October.
The 145-seat facility is in the 101 Collins Street building, but the entrance will be at 112-116 Flinders Lane, across from the Lucas Group flagship Chin Chin.
The Italian restaurant and bar will revolve around a grill and wood-fired oven imported from Naples, and the menu will feature handmade pasta and meat-based classics like bistecca alla fiorentina, a grilled Florentine T-bone.
Lucas has had shots at the site since before the pandemic, but considered pulling the pin.
“It is bubbling, but the blockages have caused a pause,” he said. “It’s a complex environment and we had to ask ourselves if we wanted to continue.”
In the end, after extensive discussions, including with Mayor Sally Capp, he decided to go.
“Restaurants, cafes and bars are the lifeblood of this city more than any other city in Australia,” he says. “It’s easy to get caught up in challenges and negativity, but I think there is a greater obligation to be bold and take risks to rebuild Melbourne.”
Speaking of daring, Lucas announced an opening date – sort of – for Society, his Martin Benn vehicle, at 80 Collins Street.
“We say July 22, but it depends on the next round of announcements,” he says. “We want to remove face masks and ease capacity restrictions, not only because it’s a shame our staff are walking around with face masks on, but also because more people will come to the city when the mask rules change. . “
This is the third time that Lucas has a date to open Society. “I am anxious,” he said. “If we arrive at this meeting without further problems, we will be happy.”
Welcoming guests will be the culmination of a dream that has been bubbling up since at least early 2017, when Lucas lured Benn and his restaurant manager partner Vicki Wild from Sydney.
“I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the place,” said Lucas. “In my humble and slightly biased opinion, I think Melbourne diners are going to see something they have never seen before.”
The restaurant swings and roundabouts follow one another. As the company gets closer to launch, Lucas has temporarily closed the doors of Chin Chin Sydney, which is in an area subject to stay-at-home orders amid the latest COVID outbreak in New South Wales.
“We just hope it will be short and to the point,” he said. “Blockages without Jobkeeper are very damaging.”