Comme Kitchen's stylish dining room. Photo: Marina Oliphant
Frank van Haandel, director of the Van Haandel Group, has confirmed he is in talks involving his city restaurant Comme with Maurice Terzini, owner of Sydney restaurant Icebergs, and chef Paul Wilson, who begins consulting for Terzini at the Bondi Beach venue this month.
Epicure understands a deal has already been done for about $1 million after protracted negotiations with the Sydney-based Terzini. In 2011, van Haandel had been asking about $2.5 million for the business. Terzini and Wilson's bid is believed to have been backed by two silent partners.
The 7 Alfred Place restaurant, which has been on the market for almost three years, was once Mietta's and is owned by John Calvert Jones, Rupert Murdoch's brother-in-law, fondly known as the ''galloping major''. Several potential suitors for the Paris-end eatery are believed to have been dissuaded by the rents on the premises which are in the vicinity of $660,000 a year.
It's a deal that would mark Terzini's triumphant return to Melbourne, after the collapse of his former restaurant Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons at Crown Casino this year.
When asked about the other current owners of Comme and if anyone will be bought out by Terzini and Wilson, van Haandel had no comment.