Panama Dining Room boasts great views.
Panama Dining Room boasts great views. Photo: Luis Ascui

Hilary McNevin and Roslyn Grundy

Collingwood's Panama Dining Room has quietly changed hands. James Langley and Laki Papadopoulos have sold the business to chef Luke Stepsys, heading south after a stint as group executive chef for Queensland-based QT Hotels & Resorts.

"All the staff are staying on and we are changing little about it, perhaps just refining the concept,'' Stepsys says. ''It's already very good."

Langley and Papadopoulos opened Panama in 2006, followed by Fitzroy's St Jude's in 2008 and Asian diner Rice Queen, originally upstairs from Panama, in 2009.

Papadopoulos bought Langley out of St Jude's and Rice Queen when the Asian diner moved into the St Jude's site in September 2012. Panama was the last business they owned together, and Langley says the separation has been "slow and really easy."

Papadopoulos still owns Rice Queen and Vegie Bar, both in Brunswick Street, and Langley owns and operates Cakes and Ale in Sorrento.