Justin Hemmes' Merivale buys prime basement space on Bridge Street

Justin Hemmes has doubled down on his city holdings.
Justin Hemmes has doubled down on his city holdings. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Hospitality giant Merivale has snapped up a prime cut of Bridge Street real estate with a deal sure to boost confidence in the strength of the Sydney CBD restaurant property market.

Justin Hemmes has doubled down on his city holdings, acquiring the strata basement space where Fratelli Fresh previously traded in the historic Burns Philp & Co building. The sale price is undisclosed.

"When you're down you've got to get up, there's opportunity. I have huge faith in the city, it's coming back in leaps and bounds," Hemmes told Good Food.

The historic Burns Philp & Co building.
The historic Burns Philp & Co building. Photo: Jessica Hromas

With many city workers still working remotely, much of the smart money has headed to the suburbs and regions. Indeed, Merivale's own recent acquisitions include The DOG hotel in Randwick and The Quarterdeck in Narooma.

"Our [city] restaurants are stronger than pre-COVID, the nightclubs have opened back up ... the local and state governments are doing a great job getting people back into the area. I don't think I've ever seen George Street so fun and active," Hemmes says.

With the prime night queues longer than ever at Ivy, Hemmes decided to move on the Bridge Street property, which is just a Buddy Franklin kick from his Mr. Wong eatery.

"I've always loved that site. We're working on different options, but it's going to be a restaurant and bar," he says.