Sought-after space: Sydney's Opera Bar. Photo: Tamara Dean
Three of Sydney's most powerful hospitality players are pushing for legal action against the Sydney Opera House Trust over what they believe to be an "unethical" tender process for the Opera Bar.
Hugos owner Dave Evans is leading the call for information from the state government over its prized harbourside venue alongside Fraser Short of the Morrison, the Watson's Bay Hotel and the Urban Purveyor Group, which counts in its portfolio Bavarian Bier Cafe, Sake and the Argyle.
The three parties missed out on a 10-year contract on the highly sought after space, which was awarded to celebrity chef Matt Moran, Peter Sullivan and other incumbent operators Bruce Solomon, Anna Solomon and John Gallas, from Solotel, on August 18.
Celebrity chef Matt Moran.
Evans, whose Hugos Group tender cost about $300,000, engaged lawyers about five weeks ago after claiming the process was compromised by the Opera House.
He said that "a bunch of unethical process occurred" and that the trust continued to proceed despite being notified of the irregularities.
"We believe those who won should have been disqualified," Mr Evans said. "This is not sour grapes, we are questioning the integrity of the process."
Hugos owner Dave Evans is leading the call for information over the contract.
A spokeswoman said as a state institution the Sydney Opera House must abide by strict procurement policy. She said the process was closely monitored at all stages by an external probity adviser.
She said that while the Opera House had not been served with legal proceedings of any kind in relation to the tender, "we have received a letter from lawyers for one of the tenderers seeking documents relating to the tender submissions".
Mr Evans said that requests for information form the Opera House had so far been ignored - a claim denied by the trust - and that he is hoping the matter will eventually appear before an independent body.
"We've been led down the garden path and we want some compensation," he said. "They've shut the door in our face."
A fifth tender for the bar, one of the most popular licensed venues in the nation according to trust chairman John Symond, was initially launched by Justin Hemmes' Merivale group but was dropped part-way into the competition.