'Big' Sam Young and Grace Chen open Juicy Banana pop-up in Rushcutters Bay

Everyone involved in the new venue will get a cut of the profit, including the hotel.
Everyone involved in the new venue will get a cut of the profit, including the hotel. Photo: Supplied

The global impact of the 2020 pandemic on the hotel sector has provided some unexpected opportunities for young chefs and hospo players.

"Big" Sam Young (Ms.G's, Totti's) and Grace Chen (ex sous chef at Poly) are opening their own venue in the currently underused Storehouse restaurant at the Vibe Hotel, in Rushcutters Bay.

"They haven't reopened the Storehouse yet, so we're going to jump in and take the space on Sundays for lunches, starting May 2," Young says.

Juicy Banana is a mash-up of 'Big' Sam Young and Grace Chen's nicknames.
Juicy Banana is a mash-up of 'Big' Sam Young and Grace Chen's nicknames. Photo: Supplied

Juicy Banana – a mash-up of the nicknames Young and Chen picked up when they worked in the kitchen of Ms.G's early in their careers – will start as a one-day-a-week pop-up with a possibility of something more fixed in the future.

It'll also pioneer a new business model. Much like a band, everyone involved will get a cut of any profit, including the hotel.

"PS40 are doing the cocktail bar. Alessandro Ponzoni (former LuMi restaurant manager) will be running the front of house," Young says.

There's also a weekly roll-call of featured chefs, with Graeme Hunt (ex Chin Chin), Toby Stansfield (Fabbrica) and Alex Yu (Sokyo) locked in.

Food pricing will sit between $108-$148 a head, depending on the produce used on each week's fixed menu. Young says the "lobster feast" on Mother's Day, for instance, will be at the higher end.

The restaurant site (where Neil Perry ran a French bistro at the turn of the century) has a terrace and views over the park. And Young says the team is excited about being unshackled. "In restaurants you often have to cook with a lot of boundaries," he says.

Bookings via bsyexperience.com.au