Bourke Street event space The Stolen Gem has been reimagined as a rooftop bar, making one of Melbourne's best skyline views accessible to the public for the first time. "You come up to the eighth floor and look straight at the old GPO with its iconic clock tower," says owner Matt Newman. "It's real New York vibes."
Newman ran The Stolen Gem as an events business for two years before the pandemic halted parties. "We've only done three events since then," he laments. Pivoting to a public offering wasn't a hard decision, though it did take two years and a VCAT battle to get planning and licensing sorted.
A major feature of the early event years was the street-level allure of the bar, a bright space with a retractable roof and all-weather outdoor blinds. "You can see the venue from Bourke Street, near the corner of Hardware Street," says Newman.
"People would think it looked cool and they'd try to head up. The security would be turning people away all night. It's given me confidence to open to the general public."
The offering is sophisticated. "We aren't doing $3 pots," says Newman.
Instead, there are cocktails made with foraged herbs and limited-edition spirits and to eat, an appealing list of share plates – lamb ribs with rendang rub, lotus root chips with mango curry dip – is augmented by limited maki boxes from cult sushi brand Uminono.
"We want to showcase something amazing to the people of Melbourne," says Newman. "It's iconic to go to rooftop bars here, both for the people who call Melbourne home and for the internationals who'll be back again soon.
"I want The Stolen Gem to be known as one of the best rooftop bars in what will again be one of the most liveable cities in the world."
Open from February 17 for bookings and walk-ins; Wed-Thu 4pm-10pm, Fr-Sat noon-1am.
Level 8, 388 Bourke Street, Melbourne, 0478 220 506, thestolengem.com.