A block away from his award-winning Nomad restaurant, owner Al Yazbek will open a deli-wine bar next April. What might appear a risky move in uncertain times has proved a clever read of the market. The lower slopes of Surry Hills are riding a post-lockdown hospitality high.
While the Sydney CBD is offering mixed results for hospitality operators, it's boom times for the precinct around Foster and Commonwealth streets.
"We're calling it Beau, as in Beaujolais," says Yazbek of his new project. "You'll be able to have a glass of wine and wander up to Nomad for dinner, or settle in."
The 100-seat venue, crafted by Smart Design Studio, will even have the Sydney accoutrement du jour, a rooftop where they will hold events.
Located next to Single Origin on Reservoir Street, Beau will sell house-made baked goods, including manoush (Lebanese flatbread pizza), goods from small and local producers, and wine to take away. The wine program will focus on Australian producers, with experimental and boutique wines on tap, says Yazbek.
Beau is not the only incoming venue. Last week Good Food reported the one-time home of Bar H (on the same block as Nomad) had been earmarked by the crew from Potts Point's Bistro 916 for an Italian venue.
So, what's driving the expansion in the area? "It's been crazy (busy) around here since the lockdown lifted," Yazbek says.
It's a sentiment backed by his neighbours. Restaurateur Chris Lucas says his Commonwealth Street restaurant, Chin Chin, is trading at record levels. "There's real energy and buzz on the streets," he adds.
Brody Petersen, who recently splashed $10 million on the area's iconic stalwart, the Hollywood Hotel, says the City of Sydney's progressive attitude to outdoor seating has helped to bring atmosphere to area's streets.
Semi-permanent parklet seating is being installed at the Hollywood this week, and Petersen is keen to support his over-flowing neighbours.
"As long as you're drinking, you can eat your takeaway [from local restaurants] here," he says. "We'll even throw in paper plates and napkins."
Early next year the area will welcome another venue, the Sydney branch of the hip Ace Hotel, on Wentworth Avenue. A spokeswoman for the Sydney Ace says an announcement on an external "restaurant partner" for the hotel will be made in coming months.