It’s a bold move but restaurateur Max Mason says opening the doors to The Henry Austin before it officially launches makes perfect sense. He also admits it could all go “fabulously” wrong.

Three intimate dinners will take place between May 26 and 28, each night at different price points. Thirty diners will pay $30, 50 will pay $50 and 100 will pay $100 for the “full Henry Austin experience”.

The word is being spread via the restaurant’s Facebook page and members of the public are encouraged to tag their mates.

“I’m doing it for a number of reasons,” Mason says. “My twisted brain prefers social influencers to see a place before VIPs, it makes great sense these days and creates some brand ambassadors of the modern style.”

The Henry Austin is run by Mason and Tess Footner, who scored the site – formerly home to historic business lunch spot Chesser Cellars – thanks to Renew Adelaide.

When it officially opens on June 1, The Henry Austin will be a bottle shop, takeaway and restaurant. Modern Australian yum cha will be prepared by former Bistro Dom head chef, Shane Wilson. Staff will circulate tables offering dishes, while a ground-level takeaway area will serve dishes to dash. There will be a stellar South Australian wine selection, too.

The transformation of the space has been a transparent one: Mason has updated social-media followers with photographs of the process. Giving the general public the chance to experience the space is another step in that direction.

“They’re more empathetic to mistakes and I promise we’ll be making some fabulous mistakes,” Mason says. “The format of food, drink and payments has never been trialled before. Most of the staff have never worked restaurants and are starting out as newbies. I don’t want them to have to experience the 270 guests on June 1 as our first interaction with the space, or chef’s first interaction with the food.”

Mason says the team aims to utilise the whole building during the three trials.

“It’ll be a combination of formats,” he says. “They’ll change to give the best value and allow my staff to best experience how the rooms work. It seems an eminently sensible approach and fun, too.”

Register your interest for the pre-opening dinners at

The Henry Austin
29 Chesser St, Adelaide
(08) 8223 2998