Emporium's 'cafe court' will seat 1100.
Emporium's 'cafe court' will seat 1100. Photo: Supplied

Hilary McNevin and Roslyn Grundy

One of Melbourne's most ambitious retail developments will open in Lonsdale Street on April 16, with Baz Luhrmann lined up as creative director for the official August launch. The 48,000 square metre Emporium Melbourne development, between Swanston and Elizabeth streets, will offer more than 170 retail stores and 30 food outlets.

Centre manager Steve Edgerton says the third-floor cafe court will become the city's premium food destination, with seating for 1100 people and outlets such as Earl Canteen, Spud Bar, Jimmy Grants and South Melbourne Dim Sims in the mix.

Eleven businesses will open their first Melbourne operations, including New York's Alison Nelson Chocolate Bar and Sydney's New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant.

The popular pork belly sandwich will feature on the menu at the second Earl Canteen.
Earl Canteen's popular pork belly sandwich. Photo: Eddie Jim

John Manos, who owns Sydney's Becasse Bakery and Charlie and Co and will be director of Emporium Melbourne's Jones the Grocer, says opening all three brands in a development of this scale in the city is something his group has been aiming for. "Melbourne has a vibrant mid-market dining scene. It's unique and at Emporium we aim to capture the core demographic of the city."

The building links Melbourne Central, David Jones and Myer and has taken four years of planning. Built in 1911, its heritage-listed facade has been retained and the interior gutted. The new fitout, designed by Japanese company Wonderwall and the West Melbourne-based Buchan Group, is an enormous expanse of curved wood, travertine and bluestone tiles and natural light over seven levels.

Emporium Melbourne will be open from Saturday to Wednesday 10am to 7pm and Thursday and Friday 10am to 9pm.