Prolific restaurateur Chris Lucas has today confirmed that he will be taking over the lease held by Italian stalwart Becco, to take effect in 2021.
"I have signed a long-term lease for the site currently known as Becco at 11-25 Crossley Street, which will take effect in 2021," Lucas said in a statement. "I'd like to state that we must respect the fact that the site is currently leased to Simon [Hartley], who has successfully run Becco for almost 20 years and has made it one of Melbourne's most admired and respected restaurants."
Hartley has emphasised that Becco is not being sold. His lease expires in July 2021 and Becco, whose trademark is registered, will be seeking a new home. "Two years is a long time in restaurants," says Hartley. "We've got a lot of fun ahead."
The relinquishing of the lease was not by mutual agreement. Hartley says he had an assurance from the current landlord's father that there would be the option to renew on the current site. "Unfortunately when the time came, that wasn't honoured."
Lucas's CBD portfolio is rapidly expanding. Along with Chin Chin and Kisume in Flinders Lane, he is due to open the rebooted Sepia as part of the 80 Collins development in 2020, and he is currently transforming 19-21 and 23 Bourke Street into French restaurant Batard, also expected to open next year.
Lucas says his plans for the Becco site are a work in progress. "But what I can say is that I want to thank the current building owners for giving me the honour and opportunity to create a new vision for this architecturally important mid-century building."