Will the Merivale juggernaut ever stop? The powerhouse Sydney hospitality group has announced not one, not two, but four new venues will open in its hallmark Ivy precinct in Sydney's CBD this year.
The expansion of the drink-and-dine district is part of CEO Justin Hemmes's vision to reinvigorate the city's nightlife, and coincides with the impending launch of the pedestrian-only George Street, and local council City of Sydney's push for a 24-hour economy.
"[It's a place] where 70-year-old best friends enjoy espresso martinis alongside 20-somethings exploring a wine list," he said in a statement. "[It will be] warm and inclusive, [with plenty of] organic interaction and enjoyment – which is something all world-class cities excel at."
Though details are thin on the ground, Merivale has confirmed Little Felix – a sister bar to French bistro Felix – will open in July. The menu by head chef Nathan Johnson revolves around charcuterie and cheese, to be consumed alongside French wines available by the glass.
A casual Lebanese bar and diner led by Simon Zalloua (formerly of Rockpool and Sefa), a Mexican eatery and a CBD version of their Bondi trattoria Totti's will join the Ivy's current venues including Bar Topa, Ash St Cellar and Palings.
Totti's, the Italian-ish eatery in Bondi, will be re-imagined as a bar in the laneway precinct. The wood-fired bread will make the move to the CBD, as will the small plates of antipasti. "We're still refining the details for our new concept, but we'll definitely be bringing over the fun, flavour and relaxed vibes at Totti's," says head chef Mike Eggert.
While Ivy 2.0 is very much in its planning stages, Merivale is heralding their plans as an evolution of the laneway dining precinct, which opened in 2007. At the time, it was populated by a New York-style steakhouse and a teppanyaki restaurant – both have since closed, but the popular Ivy nightclub and rooftop Italian restaurant Uccello still endure. Bar Topa, the standing room-only pintxos bar, was the most recent addition to the Ivy stable, opening mid-2018.
When the four new venues open this year, it will join the slow and steady rejuvenation of Sydney's nightlife – Mary's Underground has taken over the former space of The Basement, and the '70s-inspired cocktail bar Double Deuce Lounge is set to open in a few weeks.
"[Ivy 2.0] will encourage a diverse night-time economy that echoes the 24-hour sophistication and fun of the best places around the world", said Hemmes. "Somewhere that ebbs and flows as life does."