The Sardine Room will close at Potts Point at the end of the month with its Challis Street neighbour Fei Jai nabbing the space to open a dumpling and cocktail bar. Fei Jai, which means "fat boy", has been bursting at the seams for years, so where better to birth a sibling than next door? "We might call it Fat Girl," quips co-owner Peter Lew. "Sydney loves dumplings; we'll try and get a tank in there with fish and lobster."
The spin-off bar will open in April. It's a tale of two neighbouring suburbs with contrasting fortunes for Lew. The restaurateur explains that while Potts Point is thriving as a dining precinct, dinner trade has been down 30-40 per cent at his Kings Cross venue Barrio Chino due to lockout laws driving away customers who might have once dined there before heading for a drink at (now closed) venues such as Hugo's Lounge.
"We'll shut Barrio Chino at the end of March, then open a pop-up at the site, Barrio Burger and Fries," he says. "It will also operate during daytime because that's where the Cross is headed." Lew will trial the new concept for the next 12 months, buoyed by the success of the burger pop-up (pictured) he's been involved in at Deus Ex Machina on Parramatta Road.