Rebirth For Former Calombaris Restaurant Building

Posted on 12th April 2022

After sitting vacant for two years, the Kew Junction former home of Hellenic Republic - part of George Calombaris’ collapsed restaurant empire - is being reborn.

Fitzroys’ James Lockwood leased 26 Cotham Road to chefs Ayhan Erkoc and Federico Perez Lopez for their new venture, Cotham Dining.

The long six-year deal with two six-year options was struck at just under $200,000 per annum.

The 635sqm two-storey building is on a triple-fronted 515sqm site with a large 17.13-metre frontage to busy Kew Junction.

Cotham Dining brings together the former Panama Dining Room and Feast of Merit chefs with a seasonal menu heavy on charcoals and woodfires, and which draws on the large family meals of their respective Turkish and Colombian heritages.

The venue seats 150 on the ground floor and holds 100 on the second floor. The distinctive thatched ceilings have been maintained, and the dining room has been refurbished with rustic elements and features exposed brick and greenery.

“It’s fantastic to see quality operators take up this landmark site after it spent so long sitting empty. This is a huge win for the area and for Melbourne’s culinary scene,” Lockwood said.

Lockwood said hospitality operators have played a prominent role throughout Melbourne’s suburban retail leasing landscape since the beginning of the COVID period.

“The spike in hospitality leasing began as a means for operators to quickly take advantage of heightened demand for delivery and takeaway services during lockdowns, but now we’re receiving high-quality enquiry from restaurant operators with more ambitious plans for the dining experience,” Lockwood said.

“This city has a renowned foodie culture and operators are excited to cater for the huge built-up demand for quintessential Melbourne experiences after two years of lockdowns and restrictions. Melburnians have emphatically shown their desire to go out and enjoy dinner and each other’s company as we’ve returned to a COVID-normal environment.

According to Fitzroys’ most recent Walk the Strip report, leasing deals to hospitality tenants were accounting for half of all retail deals deep into 2021, well above the circa 28% proportion of Melbourne’s shopping strips that are leased to food and beverage operators. Lockwood said the trend has continued into 2022.