Mary's is not known for its softly–softly approach. The Sydney group's original Newtown burger restaurant blasts Slayer turned up to eleven, while leather pants-clad waiters sling fried chicken, cheeseburgers and natural wine. The ham and pineapple number at Mary's Pizzeria is called the Tropical Fucker. There are skeletons in the window at their Haymarket bar. At Mary's Circular Quay, the word "ratpiss" is spelled out in marquee lights. In capital letters.
So it's something of a surprise that the Mary's Group, led by Kenny Graham and Jake Smyth, have taken a strategy of gradual encroachment in Melbourne.
Mary's is set to open its first Melbourne bricks and mortar shop on Franklin Street on 11 November, after a tactical few months of pop-ups at Fancy Free and appearances at the Download music festival. "It's been almost seven years since we opened the Newtown – it's about time, don't you think?," says Graham.
The Melbourne location is their biggest project yet. The 160-seat restaurant slides into a new retail development, once the site of a backpacker's hostel. It's a "cavernous, slightly intimidating space," says Graham, one that they've mad cosier with mezzanine level à la Newtown, and a raised dining section like that found at Mary's Underground.
The menu will include all the Mary's hits – cheeseburgers (the beef is sourced from Gippsland, did you know?), the fried Larry double-chicken, mash and gravy – and the full vegan menu from their Circular Quay venue. In time, they'll work some Melbourne-only specials onto the menu. And wine director Caitlyn Rees is compiling a drinks list that echoes the GT Wine List of the Year-winning selection at Mary's Underground: natural and organic wines, zooming in on Australian and Victorian producers.
Did we mention the chandelier? It's a 1.8 metre-wide iron beast of a thing surrounded by 24,000 dead rose stems salvaged from the Sydney flower markets. In a city crowded with burger options, your standard Melbourne burger joint this is not.
Then again, the Mary's crew don't consider themselves a burger company. "Mary's is about the hospitality experience. We're restaurant and bar people," says Graham. "It's about great service and generosity, and not just about whether we have the perfect meat to bun ratio."
Most of all, they just want a venue to throw a big party for Melbourne diners. "We want people to come out of here thinking: that was so much fun," says Graham. "And then we want them to think: and it was fucking delicious too."
Mary's Melbourne is slated to open on 11 November at 167 Franklin St, Melbourne