True believer ... Justin Hemmes tips Oxford Street to come good. Photo: Tamara Dean
Oxford Street has been waiting for a white knight, and it may have found one in Midas-touch publican Justin Hemmes, who has bought the Paddington Arms Hotel.
The Oxford strip has endured years of negative publicity as big name retailers departed, leaving many vacant shops. The Paddington Arms is located opposite the site of the strip's one-time jewel, Paddington Markets.
"I really believe in the area. I think it's going to come good," Hemmes predicts.
He is wagering hard on its success; he is already planning two new restaurants, one an Italian eatery, at another location owned by his family further up the strip.
Hemmes earned his stripes as Sydney's "Bar Tsar" but has parlayed that success with a constantly evolving stable of hit restaurants including Mr Wong, Felix and Papi Chulo.
"We've just exchanged [on the Paddington Arms]. When we settle [late March] we will put a DA in and do a major renovation," Hemmes says.
The pub will have its own food venue but Hemmes says he hasn't decided its culinary focus.