For regulars of Prospect’s Rosemont Hall, word that a fire had destroyed one of the area’s favourite hangouts hit like the news of an old friend’s passing. Locals left flowers, cards and photos on temporary fencing around the building. Among the messages: “We can’t wait to see what you guys do next.”

The 97-year-old building had been home to Mr Chan and Sunnys Shop for five years. Mr Chan’s yum cha and Sunnys Shop’s banh mi had gained a cult following that eclipsed the borders of the inner northern suburb.

Food aside, diners were drawn to Rosemont Hall’s heritage art deco building with its stained-glass windows, timber beams and stripped-back walls. The grab-and-go-focused Sunnys Shop next door leaned into Phuket-style beach hut vibes with wooden panels and shutters, and lush tropical greenery.

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After the fire in September 2021, the restaurants’ owner, Aaron Ratanatray, vowed to rebuild. In August 2022, almost a year on from the blaze, builders will at last begin work on the new Rosemont Hall.

Ratanatray is promising more of the same once the doors reopen in late 2023. Under the plans, builders will recreate Rosemont Hall as it was – with some minor improvements.

“There’s a lot easier ways to come back than to make a replica of what was there,” Ratanatray tells Broadsheet.

“Hearing all the responses from the public, everyone really missed Rosemont, and I think I’d be letting them down if I was to do anything less than that. So we’re gonna literally recreate a replica of what was there and I’ve got to tell you, it’s not going to be easy at all.”

Sunnys Shop will open first, serving up takeaway versions of its much-loved curries, salads and stir-fries. Mr Chan will be revived after that.

There are plans to make the restaurants slightly more extensive and more functional, with bigger kitchens, a basement and indoor bathrooms.

“I used to dread it on a rainy night, because people would go out to the toilets with their make-up and their hair done, and they’d come back with make-up running down their face,” says Ratanatray.

The fire destroyed every last piece of the building except for four metal rods bolted to the parapet wall. Ratanatray has saved these for re-use at the new site, which he says will also be a testament to the “determination of Prospect”.

“We just want it to feel nostalgic … like reuniting with an old friend.”

This article was updated on April 6, 2022 to reflect changes to the reopening timeline.