Big players in the running for Bondi Pavilion, but who will win?

Waverley Council has whittled the contenders down to four.
Waverley Council has whittled the contenders down to four.  Photo: Louise Kennerley

With the long-awaited renovation of Sydney's iconic Bondi Pavilion under way, the big question down on the sandy eat streets of the city's east is what will we snack on when the old girl reopens.

Good Food understands Waverley Council has whittled the contenders down to four. Incumbent Bucket List is on the list, which is expected given it took a nondescript seafood restaurant and transformed the location into one of the most fiercely fought over food venues in recent years. Several big-name venue operators didn't even make the shortlist.

Those familiar with the plans of all the contenders say the Bucket List proposal is a step up in sophistication but the offering is still approachable.

Also on the list is Mike McEnearney. The Kitchen by Mike chef-owner declined to comment when approached by Good Food, but earlier this year said he was looking for sites in the east, with a bakery believed to be part of his pitch. McEnearney is believed to have buddied up with publican Fraser Short on the project.

Restaurateur Scott Brown confirmed he's among those to have pitched for the key restaurant site, which has moved to the southern end of the beachside building. Brown, who ran upmarket hotels and lodges before opening a posse of venues in New Zealand, is betting big on Sydney, opening a mega 450-person venue at Circular Quay. His Bondi Green pitch for the Pavilion is a JV with Bondi Beer and would mix micro brewery with "fresh food".

The out-of-town wild card believed to be still in the running is Darling Group, the team behind Melbourne venues Higher Ground, Top Paddock and Kettle Black.

Bondi has proved remarkably resilient in 2020, with a rash of recent openings including Caita, Cubby's Kitchen and Salty's. Bad Hombres will join the party at the end of the month, opening near CicciaBella on Hall Street.