It started with The Grounds, The Greens and Acre in Sydney. The mega venue trend – often growing their own produce – found traction before spreading to The Farm at Byron Bay. Now the south coast is getting in on the act.
A 450-seat venue, The Growers, will open next month just outside Nowra on the road to Culburra Beach. Sliding into the sprawling Worrigee Sports site, The Growers will be planting some of its own produce and tapping south coast producers.
Tully Heard, the Sydney-based group behind Acre in Sydney and a soon-to-open mega venue in Artarmon, is consulting on the south coast project.
"When COVID hit they could've put it on hold, [but] to their credit they [the venue operator] said let's go for it," John Tully says. "Pony did the design."
Expect multiple dining areas, an outdoor garden fire pit and children's play area.
It even has a neighbouring golf course. Sounds like the kitchen is in good hands, with US chef Patrick Haney swapping hipster central Portland for Sydney a few years ago, working his way around Circular Quay venues including Opera Bar before joining The Growers.
Haney has previously worked closely with a number of south coast producers, including oyster farmers, and he's already toying with using the fruits from The Growers' small orchard with gelato and local distillers.
"This is everything I love about Australia rolled into one," he says.