Work has finally begun on 22 Agnes, the much-anticipated woodfired restaurant from Ben Williamson, Tyron Simon and Frank Li. The news follows a frustrating delay after the venue was originally announced in March, mostly to do with landing the required development approval from council.

“Workers have been there for the past three weeks,” Simon says. “All things being equal, just after Australia Day we should be ready to open.”

Despite the delay, the concept for 22 Agnes remains the same: a woodfired restaurant with everything cooked using flames and smoke. There’ll be 86 seats split between a main floor and a private dining mezzanine. A 38-seat bar is planned for a lower level, along with a small distillery producing gin and whisky.

“No changes there, which has been great,” says Simon, who credits councillor Vicki Howard with helping navigate the development approval process. “[She] has been so helpful. Council cops a lot of flak because there are obviously bureaucracy challenges there, but Howard is someone who is serving in the government for the people. She is absolutely doing that, she’s incredible.”

Williamson told Broadsheet in March to expect an evolution of what he was known for during his time heading up the kitchen at Gerard’s Bistro, but without the Middle-Eastern structure, and with a simplified presentation. There’ll also be a big focus on zero-waste, with a dry-ageing coolroom installed downstairs so the kitchen can buy whole carcasses and use as much of each beast as possible.