The owners of Brisbane's top-rated restaurant, Esquire, have parted ways. Chef Ryan Squires described the dissolution of his three-year business partnership with Cameron Murchison in the fine-diner as amicable but unavoidable, saying both had developed different visions for the riverside venue.
"It had to be done. Esquire is a motivated restaurant. We're trying to be progressive and that doesn't suit all," Squires says.
Murchison said he was proud of what Esquire had achieved in its first three years but wanted the restaurant to be "a bit more commercial" and to appeal to the "bread and butter" corporate market. Squires says the plan now is to continue with business as usual at Esquire for the next year but to add a bar in the courtyard area at the front of the restaurant.
"We've got first rights to this area and the owner wants to activate the space. I may do this with a friend in Sydney - we're talking about it," he says.
Pending engineering and architect reports, the restaurant might then transfer to a new space beneath its current site, which would be closer to the river, he said "Esquire might move to smaller premises - and seat 30 people rather than 60. It might become more Esq (the restaurant's more casual side) and less Esquire. I am waiting for engineering results and to see if my Sydney friend will be involved."
Meanwhile, Murchison has secured a site in the western suburbs at Rosalie Village.
"The concept is still evolving. The split has only just become official. It doesn't have a name or a chef yet."
Murchison hopes the modern Australian bistro would open in three to four months. "It won't be too fancy or fine dining, but it won't be too casual either, and there'll be a bar element," he says.