You may know George Calombaris best for his incredible ability to divvy up contestants' dishes into perfectly equal portions on TV's Masterchef. He's also the man behind popular souvlaki joint Jimmy Grants, which is opening its fourth store in Richmond on August 23.
"I think that street is just incredible. What the guys at Kong are doing is fantastic, Top Paddock just down the road is awesome. Belle's Hot Chicken is opening up around the corner. Our friends at Messina also opened up just around the corner," Calombaris says. "There's options for everyone and I'm really excited to be in Richmond."
Designed by March Studios – which is behind all of Calombaris' ventures – the Richmond restaurant will focus more on cocktails than at the other venues, drawing on the bar expertise on show at Gazi. It also features a fit-out that's closer to home.
"Jimmy is a story, it's the story of my family and their migration to Australia,” Calombaris says. "The Richmond store is the story of their first house, so when you get there you'll actually feel like you're in my parents' home."
Speaking with Calombaris you get a sense that his parents' pride in their home still informs how he approaches every space he owns today.
"People talk about it being a QSR market: ‘quick service restaurants’. But I don't want to be a QSR,” he says. “It's Jimmy Grants. I'm applying the same philosophy we do with all our restaurants. It doesn't matter if you're at Press Club or Hellenic or Gazi or Mastic.”
Calombaris is coy about his future plans for Jimmy after this latest expansion, but there's talk of an expansion into Eastland.
"I don't want to give too much away, but we're in development at the moment," he concedes, but says it's always a long process.
"Jimmy Grants isn't cookie-cutter. I hear all the time, certain QSR venues can open within 12 weeks. You know, build them, open them,” he says. “We can't do that because I don't want to take the same store from Collingwood and replicate that in Richmond. I want to create something unique and fit it to the area."
The next area Calombaris has set his sights on is the west, with plans to open Hellenic Hotel in Williamstown early next year. Recently returned from a research trip to Greece, he says the venue – three years in the making – will make seafood dishes the hero, and feature a large public bar.
Jimmy Grants in Richmond is located at 427-429 Church Street, Richmond, opens August 23.