Basque bound: Gerald's Bar to open in San Sebastian

Gerald Diffey behind his eponymous Carlton bar.
Gerald Diffey behind his eponymous Carlton bar. Photo: Drew Ryan

Melbourne bar owners Gerald Diffey and Mario Di Ienno are making the move north but when we say north, we mean far, far north. The pair, who own Gerald's Bar, St Clements Greengrocer and Skinner & Hackett butcher, all in Carlton North, have taken over a small restaurant in the coastal Basque town of San Sebastian.

"This is something I've been wanting for a long time," says British-born Diffey, who has been visiting Spain for the past five years. After a two-year search, Diffey found Restaurante Errota Txiki, which has been run by the same family for the past 45 years. "It's in the old town, near the fishing port," says Diffey.

The 40-seater with "loads of old stone, wood and an open kitchen", is fully functioning as a restaurant but Diffey will introduce lots of Gerald's Bar character to the decor and food. "There'll be cheese, charcuterie, bread, wine and local cider and a couple of changing dishes," he says.

When asked about why he didn't look for a venue closer to home, Diffey said that opening Gerald's Bar at Errota Txiki offered "an exciting prospect to take your brand into another arena."

He and Di Ienno plan to open in early September, running it themselves for the first few months and keeping it simple and rustic before hiring staff by March 2015 as they gear up for the busy European summer season. Diffey will spend six months a year in San Sebastian and the other six in Melbourne. After the launch, Di Ienno will be based full-time in Melbourne.