There’s something about Mary’s. It’s known for more than just its food – there’s a distinct rock‘n’roll vibe in a Mary’s joint alongside the Sydney-famous burgers, fried chicken, smashable wine and cocktails. And Melbourne is finally getting in on the action some time next month, in the CBD.
The team behind the string of Mary’s restaurants in Sydney (there are four – the first opened in the inner-west suburb of Newtown in 2013) is Kenny Graham and Jake Smyth.
“When Jake and I first formed the idea of opening a bar together, it was supposed to be in Melbourne,” Graham tells Broadsheet. “We just ended up in Sydney because we thought there was a bit more hunger for it here.”
Just this year Graham and Smyth have launched two new Mary’s projects in Sydney: one on Pitt Street and one in Circular Quay (which includes the fancier restaurant and jazz and live music bar Mary’s Underground).
The duo promises all the elements of a classic Mary’s will be available at its Melbourne home: good food, good booze, good energy and good times.
“One of the things we always want from a Mary's experience is for people to leave going, 'Fuck, that was fun,' with an afterthought of, 'And it was fucking delicious, too',” Graham says.
All of the classic Mary’s menu will all be available in Melbourne: beef cheeseburgers, a mushroom number, crispy fried chicken and mashed potatoes covered in steaming hot gravy. Everything on the menu, like at its Circular Quay and Pitt Street venues, can be made vegan, and there’ll be special items exclusive to the Melbourne location, though whether they will be rolling specials or permanent items hasn’t yet been decided.
For drinks, the group’s sommelier Caitlyn Rees has put together a 100-strong wine list with a big focus on natural varieties and drops from Victorian wineries. The cocktail list will lean towards whisky and gin, but there’ll be something for everyone – even the non-drinkers.
“There’ll be a package in thirds of full-strength, mid-strength and non-alcoholic drinks,” Graham shares. “We’ll have a couple of Mary’s classics, too, such as the Espresso Martini and Bloody Mary.”
The look will be like previous Mary’s venues: plush seats, dark lighting, deep reds, brass fittings and lots of black. The entrance will be through a laneway marked with a red light, and inside you’ll be greeted by a large wrought-iron chandelier surrounded by 24,000 dead rose stems. It’ll be the largest space yet, with room for 140 people and a mezzanine overlooking the main floor.
Though they’re well established in Sydney, Smyth and Graham are treating the Melbourne Mary’s as if it were their first ever venue.
“We’re coming to Melbourne very humble, knowing that Melbourne does not need us,” Graham says. “Whether [people] want us or not, we’re coming, and we’re treating it like it’s day one for us, the same way Newtown was. We’re not taking anything for granted –we’re going to fight for this like we fought for everywhere else.”
Mary’s is opening at 167 Franklin Street, Melbourne in January 2020. This article was updated on October 28 to reflect a change to the expected open date.