“I can’t tell you how many people have asked me why I haven’t opened a restaurant in Geelong,” Chris Lucas tells Broadsheet. The restaurateur grew up in the regional city, where his dad ran pubs and cafes in the 1960s and ’70s.

Lucas – whose eponymous Lucas Restaurants group is behind Grill Americano, Society, Yakimono and the upcoming Batard – will no longer have to field this question when Club Chin Chin opens at the end of April, after five months of planning.

Club Chin Chin is a yearlong pop-up restaurant in the GMHBA Stadium grandstand. It’s part of the new Joel Selwood Stand, constructed as part of a $142 million project to upgrade the Geelong Football Club’s home stadium.

Lucas’s Chin Chin first opened on Flinders Lane in 2011, with a Sydney outpost following in 2017. Led by executive chef Benjamin Cooper, it’s known for its buzzy, late-night service and an offering of Southeast Asian dishes. The Geelong iteration will function as a restaurant, with table service, a set menu available on game days, and an à la carte offering featuring most dishes available in Melbourne, plus a few new ones, available the rest of the time.

While you won’t be able to take food away to eat during the game, Lucas says the team is planning smaller activations around the grounds. “We’re thinking about maybe doing curry stands where we can service Chin Chin’s famous butter chicken curry, or we might do a roti station.

“It’s not so much a commercial exercise; it’s more of a passion exercise between us and the club.”
If the stadium pop-up is popular, Lucas says, the team will look to either stay at the grounds or find another location in Geelong. He also hints at plans to further expand Chin Chin beyond Melbourne and Sydney.

But “for now,” he says, “we just want to get the place open, have a bit of fun and bring a bit of Chin Chin magic down to Geelong”.

Club Chin Chin is expected to open to the public at the end of April