Soon, Ella will open in Melbourne Central. It’s an ambitious 2500-square-metre food, drink and retail space that takes its inspiration from the high-end offerings found in Asia’s train stations.

Michael Bascetta and Roscoe Power – the co-founders of Melbourne hospitality industry co-working space Worksmith – have been recruited by developers GPT to select the 12 tenants for the new project. They want to do more than just tempt the hungry commuter.

“People are able to have the best meals of their life in a train station or a shopping centre in Asia. But in Australia we don’t have that same sort of culture,” says Bascetta. “We want to provide spaces that people really want to seek out and go to on their night off or weekend off, where it’s not just a pit stop as you get onto the train.”

Ella will be designed by Chris James, who also handled the interiors at Worksmith and Capitano, which Bascetta co-owns. He’s gone with dark timbers and earthy pallets that nod to “Australiana-outback”.

Celebrated Australian bartender Luke Whearty, founder of award-winning Singapore bar Operation Dagger, will debut Byrdi, his first Australian cocktail bar. Operation Dagger earned a spot in the hotly contested World’s 50 Best Bars list in 2018 because of Whearty’s pioneering use of regional produce in his drinks.

“Byrdi is like the bird and wherever it lands – that’s it’s environment,” says Bascetta. “Luke Whearty will obviously use local spirits, but also really hyper-local and hyper-seasonal ingredients too.”

Globetrotting chef Charlie Carrington will open a second outpost of Colours by Atlas, the casual sibling to Atlas Dining. Colours will debut a new menu focused on vegetarian Mediterranean bowls.

“We wanted to bring together some great operators in Melbourne that perhaps normally wouldn’t go into a train station precinct,” says Bascetta.

Ella’s remaining tenants will be announced over the coming month. It opens at the end of March.