It started with the wallpaper. A luscious Catherine Martin print of banana palms rendered in great runs of turquoise, teal and pink. Around it, Justinn DeBeer built a bar.
“Before we’d even signed the lease, Bea had this wallpaper,” DeBeer says. “[Then] she found this beautiful neon sign on Pinterest that said ‘Hello Gorgeous’. That with the very tropical wallpaper behind it gave the feel of the place. After looking at this thing for months and showing people, I just said, ‘Let’s call it Hello Gorgeous’.”
DeBeer opened Hello Gorgeous in February in the former digs of Chester Street Bakery. Stylist Bea Berry, DeBeer’s partner, was in charge of the interior design. She has created a venue rich in pink, teal and electric blue, with brass detailing and corrugated white walls. High at the back of the space, the venue’s name shines in neon lights. Out front, an enormous deck reaches across a car park, presenting Hello Gorgeous to the street.
It’s a very different venue to the moody boltholes and speakeasies that are gathered around Brunswick Street, just a few blocks south. Those bars are part of the Valley's club culture but DeBeer envisions Hello Gorgeous kicking off during the day; the handsome deck is ideal for long sessions of champagne and share plates, a yet-to-open mezzanine perfect for people watching over Chester Street.
Chef Matt Wrench has created a seafood-heavy share-plate menu. There’s little in the way of fried pub grub. Dishes such as stuffed Fraser Island spanner crab, barbequed octopus with green gazpacho and coconut-crusted drunken prawns are designed to help the booze slip down a little easier.
And it’s the drinks that are of course the main event here: Hello Gorgeous has an extensive list of more than 30 red, rosé and white wines, and 10 sparklings and champagnes by the bottle. There’s also a big focus on low-alcoholic booze – “A real French way of drinking,” DeBeer says – with plenty of vermouths, spritzers and distilled non-alcoholic Seedlip spirits.
For now Hello Gorgeous is operating under a small-bar licence with 60 seats and a capacity for 100 people. But DeBeer expects his general liquor licence to be approved in the coming weeks, allowing him to open upstairs and start planning for a “stage three” rooftop bar.