George Calombaris to close his fine-dining flagship, the Press Club

George Calombaris.
George Calombaris. Photo: Guy Lavoipierre

 

When restaurateur George Calombaris closes his flagship fine diner, the Press Club, on June 29, it marks the end of his dream to own the world's No. 1 modern Greek restaurant.

"I've had a lot of sleepless nights and given it a lot of thought but I knew in my heart of hearts that it was the right decision."

The Press Club will host a series of special events before it closes.
The Press Club will host a series of special events before it closes. Photo: Eddie Jim

The Flinders Street restaurant is not closing for financial reasons, he says.

"It ain't broke but I want to break it to be better. I'm a different person from the selfish, one-dimensional guy who opened that restaurant 12 years ago."

Calombaris will spend the next three months celebrating the restaurant's 12-year history with a series of events featuring special guests and signature dishes from previous menus, which have pulled equally on his Greek heritage and his fascination with molecular gastronomy.

The Press Club's menu mixes Greek tradition and molecular gastronomy.
The Press Club's menu mixes Greek tradition and molecular gastronomy. Photo: Eddie Jim

The chef remains tight-lipped about plans for the space after it closes on June 29, other than to say it will reopen in a fresh guise about a month later.

The original 100-seat Press Club opened in the Herald and Weekly Times Building in late 2006 and only months later picked up The Age Good Food Guide awards for Best New Restaurant and Chef of the Year.

In 2013, Calombaris's Made Establishment hospitality group lavished $2 million transforming the restaurant's former bar into the restaurant mark 2, a 34-seat dining room that was all polished metals, honey-coloured leather booths and sexy curves.

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The former boy from Berwick says he's proud of his flagship, despite sometimes mixed reviews from the critics.

Without the Press Club, he would not have been able to open Gazi, which took over the original Press Club space, Hellenic Republic restaurants in Brunswick East, Kew, Brighton and Williamstown, and his Greek street food chain Jimmy Grants, he says.

"And I would never have got onto MasterChef, which has been a big part of my life for the past few years."

Fine dining closures

2013 Jacques Reymond, Prahran

2016 Moon Under Water, Fitzroy

2017 Circa, the Prince, St Kilda

2018 The Point, Albert Park; Fen, Port Fairy