It’s hard to imagine Toorak Cellars was ever a nondescript bottle shop on a quiet strip of shops beside a suburban train line. It’s equally hard to imagine Milton Wine Shop as a pop-up Christmas gift shop, or The Alps as a dilapidated milk bar.
It’s what Lyndon Kubis has a knack for: turning unremarkable sites in quiet neighbourhoods into cosy, heaving wine bars – a formula he’ll test for a fourth time when The Hills opens in Surrey Hills in July.
“We feel pretty deeply that the wines we sell are for everyone,” says Kubis. “Right now, there’s nowhere in Surrey Hills selling the types of wines that we love, wines with character and personality that reflect a place and time.
“From what I’ve heard, if locals want a glass of wine, at the moment their only option is to go to the Balwyn Cinema. So we’re going to go there and bring them the wines that we love.”
Part of the reason Surrey Hills is lacking in spots for a drink is the area is a traditionally dry one, but Kubis and his business partners, Renton Carlyle and Mark Hopkinson (who also own Richmond’s Romulus and Remus), can get around this with a substantial food offering. Wood-fired pizzas will be on the menu at The Hills, alongside the cheese, charcuterie and other snacks you get at the team’s other bars.
The wine list will be as colourful as those at at Toorak Cellars, Milton and The Alps.
“I don’t subscribe to the notion that a certain suburb or area of Melbourne doesn’t want wines with character and personality,” says Kubis. “Everyone wants that; it’s why we’re heading out to the Hills.”
The team also has its eyes on a site for a fifth wine bar – more to come on The Moon soon.
The Hills opens in July
141 Union Road, Surrey Hills
This article was updated on May 24.