For 10 years, the Long Room has been a suit institution, with after-work drinks unspooling into the small hours of Saturday morning. But as of January 28, the party’s over – for the moment, anyway – with the Long Room closing to make way for The George on Collins.
General manager Natalie Butler says now is the time for an overhaul, especially in light of an influx of new restaurants and bars in the CBD. She says the customer’s expectations have changed and they want to “get back in the mix”.
Like an increasing number of large-scale venues, The George will become an all-day operation, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night drinks, seven days a week.
Design firm Hecker Guthrie is gutting the basement room to peel it back to the original architecture of the former department store.
“We’ve got these beautiful heritage brick archways that really form the foundation of the building,” says Hecker Guthrie associate Stacey Van Harn. “We’re saving a lot of the original heritage brickwork, and that’s going to be painted. We’re adding in recycled brickwork as well, which will be left raw. It’s about creating something that will last another 10 years.”
There are plans to divide the space into discrete sections, with a casual dining area and a more exclusive VIP room “where furniture will be presented as artwork,” Van Harn says.
A new head chef will be announced soon, who will oversee a menu featuring simple European dishes. The drinks list will also get a makeover, with an emphasis on affordability. “We don’t want to be too fussy,” Butler says.
Ultimately, the transition from the Long Room to the George on Collins is intended to appeal to a broader demographic, all-day long, while holding onto the suits that have been the foundation of its success.
“Moving forward, we want to become more of a destination venue,” says Butler. “We also need to make sure we don’t go too far from what we’ve done. The corporate crowd is a significant part of our business, because of our location. We’ve got a really great formula now. All we need to do is make sure we keep up with the times.”
The Long Room’s last drinks will be called on Saturday January 28. The George on Collins is due to open mid-May.