Justin Hemmes announces plans for 4 new Ivy bars

June 11, 2019
By Alana House

Merivale has revealed plans to evolve the laneway precinct and George Street presence at Ivy with four new bars and eateries.

The project will begin with the July launch of Little Felix, a sister bar to the hatted French bistro on Ash Street, followed by a Middle Eastern concept and Mexican eatery and bar on George Street, and a Totti’s-inspired Italian eatery and bar on Palings Lane. It coincides with the opening of George Street’s multi-million-dollar pedestrianisation, together with the City of Sydney’s push for a 24-hour CBD.

This phase of Merivale’s ‘ivy 2.0’ project is the first step of Justin Hemmes‘ vision to ultimately redevelop the site – a concept he describes as “centred around how we eat, drink, socialise, communicate and work together in this city”.

While the ultimate redevelopment is in the lengthy planning phase, Merivale’s interim focus is on the Ivy of today and creating a neighbourhood of around-the-clock hospitality.

Merivale will transform several sites from retail outlets into hospitality concepts, taking the total number of Ivy laneway offerings to 12. The vision is to activate and energise that part of the CBD after 6pm.

Hemmes hopes this will encourage “a diverse night-time economy that echoes the 24-hour sophistication and fun of the best places around the world”.

“Somewhere that ebbs and flows as life does, where 70-year-old best friends can be enjoying espresso martinis alongside 20-somethings exploring a wine list,” he added. “Warm, inclusive, organic interaction and enjoyment, which is something all world-class cities excel at.”

Merivale - Felix

Little Felix, an intimate 60-seater cocktail bar, will open beside Felix (above) next month. Head Chef Nathan Johnson has designed a simple French-inspired menu centred around charcuterie and cheese, paired with French wine served by the glass and classic cocktails.

“This is where you go for a deep conversation over wine and lose track of time,” said Hemmes.

Also launching over the next year will be an Italian bar concept, inspired by Totti’s, Merivale’s much-loved eatery at The Royal Bondi. The incarnation at Ivy is built around what Hemmes describes as “the concept of sharing, eating, drinking, celebrating life and connections with people”.

There will be a casual Lebanese eatery and bar opposite Wynyard Station on George Street, led by Head Chef Simon Zalloua. Split into two offerings – takeaway at the front and a lively bar and diner serving drinks and mezze-shared plates out the back – the concept will be vegetarian-heavy with a big emphasis on legumes, vegetables and dishes coming off the charcoal grill. 

“We want to create a destination buzzing with people having a having fantastic time,” said Hemmes. “Middle Eastern food has stunning flavours and an amazing vibe. It’s all about sharing and enjoying yourself with others.”

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