Following the collapse of the George Calombaris' restaurant empire in February, the owners of historic Melbourne restaurant Stalactites have confirmed their purchase of two Jimmy Grants stores.
The Stalactites Group, operators of Stalactites and quick-service souvlaki eatery Hella Good in the CBD, have acquired the Jimmy Grant eateries in Emporium Melbourne and the original Fitzroy flagship. The stores will be transformed into Hella Good stores.
Nicole Papasavas of The Stalactites Group says a gradual expansion of Hella Good, which opened in 2017, was always on the cards. "There was no rush," she says. "But when this news [of Made Establishment going into voluntary administration] was announced, we thought, 'This is actually a good opportunity to find a site that's ready to go.'"
The Emporium Melbourne location in a shopping-centre food court aligns with Hella Good's grab-and-go style of service. The Fitzroy site will have more space for patrons to dine in, and the group is looking to convert the back of the shop into a preparation kitchen to service the souvlaki chain's venues.
Papasavas has already recruited three former Made Establishment employees at The Stalactites Group venues, and is hoping for more to join the business. "We reached out to Made and said we're interested in hiring their staff – many have sent their résumés already," she says. The group is seeking long-term staff to work at Stalactites and Hella Good. "At Stalactites, some staff have been there for 20 or more years. We're a family business, and we try to keep it quite homely."
The five remaining Jimmy Grants stores in Chadstone, Eastland Shopping Centre, Ormond, Richmond and St Kilda remain unsold. "There was considerable interest in the Jimmy Grants stores with more than 30 enquiries, but acceptable offers were concentrated on just a few of the venues," said Craig Shepard from KordaMentha Restructuring, the company appointed to handle the sale of Made Establishment venues, in a statement.
In February, KordaMentha Restructuring announced the sale of Hellenic Republic Brighton, Vita Ristorante (formerly Hellenic Republic Kew) and Crofter Dining Room & Bar in Brunswick. The future of restaurants Elektra (formerly The Press Club) and Gazi is unclear.
For Papasavas, the collapse of Made Establishment is a blow to the Melbourne dining scene and the Greek restaurant industry. "The last thing you want is for colleagues to fail. We want Greek businesses to be around, otherwise you lose the flavour of Melbourne," she says.
Jimmy Grants Emporium Melbourne is slated to open in mid-year, with the Fitzroy location set to open in late 2020.