Top chef and hospitality entrepreneur win bid for iconic harbourside oyster bar

A new team has won the tender for the coveted site.
A new team has won the tender for the coveted site. Photo: Kate Geraghty

The waterfront Sydney oyster bar that has became a political hot potato after the NSW government declined to renew its lease after three decades has been hooked by two of the city's prime food movers.

Sydney hospitality entrepreneur Fraser Short, and Sean Connolly, a previous winner of The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide's coveted Chef of the Year award, have won the tender for the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar site.

"We don't just want to open like for like there," Connolly says. "It'll be a French-Med restaurant with a broader seafood brief." 

Chef Sean Connolly (left) and Sydney hospitality entrepreneur Fraser Short are behind the new venture.
Chef Sean Connolly (left) and Sydney hospitality entrepreneur Fraser Short are behind the new venture. Photo: Supplied

Diners will still be able to snare an oyster at the iconic Sydney site, the chef says, having sold a million of them a year at The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room, on George Street.

The current operators of the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar have waged a public battle to remain at the site.

The Oyster Bar has been subject to petitions and heated talkback radio coverage after owner Philip Thompson went public that Property NSW had informed him the restaurant was unsuccessful in its bid to keep the site, despite pitching a major upgrade.

Whalebridge's French-Med menu will have a broad seafood brief.
Whalebridge's French-Med menu will have a broad seafood brief. Photo: Supplied

The tender process has been competitive, and fiercely fought. The winning bid from the Short crew has taken a sensitive approach to the iconic location next to the harbour. 

"Certainly, we'll be respectful of the area," Connolly says. "We take possession next March, but probably won't open until spring next year. It'll be called Whalebridge."