Never heard of the Urban Purveyor Group? It’s understandable you don’t know the name. But it’s likely you’ve eaten at one of its restaurants before – or will soon.
The Sydney-based pub, bar and dining behemoth is about to aggressively expand its Melbourne operations – it will take over the former sites of both Woody P. and Stokehouse City. Another branch of its Japanese dining brand, Sake Restaurant & Bar, will take over Woody P. on Flinders Lane. A multi-storey steakhouse, burger and barbeque venue, called The Alfred, will take the place of Stokehouse (formerly both Mietta’s and Comme). A smaller, more casual version of the Japanese eatery, Sake Jr, will open on Bourke Street.
The group is among the biggest hospitality companies in the country, with 20 existing large-scale operations to its name. Late last year, the company's founder, John Szangolies, sold the company to private equity group, Quadrant, for almost $200 million, which, according to The Australian, has plans to double UPG's size over the next two years. Its significant existing Sydney portfolio includes The Argyle, which boasts five bars over two levels; Ananas Bar and Brasserie; Sake; Swine and Co.; The Cut Steakhouse; and a slew of Bavarian Beer Cafes. In Melbourne, UPG operates the existing Sake and the Munich Brauhaus, both on Southbank. According to UPG, the organisation employs more than 1400 staff.
Both venues for the new Melbourne restaurants will get entirely new fit-outs from Melissa Collison Design, despite major renovations in each case in the past 12 months.
While Sake will have many of the same menu items that feature at its existing outlets, there’s likely to be a list of regional specials.
The Alfred, on the other hand, will feature multiple dining options in the same building. The lynchpin of the project is The Cut Steakhouse, which will fill the upstairs ballroom. CEO Thomas Pash promises, “Floor-to-ceiling oak, a marble and leather-cladded bar and a 3500-bottle wine wall”. Regular live acts and DJs will attempt to mark out the space as an “entertainment hub”. Downstairs there’ll be a more casual burger and barbeque outlet, a speakeasy-style bar and a takeaway butcher on Alfred Place.
Pash believes the Urban Purveyor Group’s expansion in the Melbourne market will find success. “We have been looking for the right properties in Melbourne for some time, and fought fiercely for the sites we’ve acquired as we know they are premier locations where our restaurants will thrive,” he says via email. “Urban Purveyor Group is bringing already-proven, award-winning restaurant concepts and our successful hospitality formula to these sites.”