For restaurateur Chris Lucas, this Mother’s Day will be the last time he opens the doors to his distinguished Richmond restaurant Pearl – in its current form anyway. Now in the final days of service, this popular fine-dining restaurant will close after 12 years of operation in its location on the Yarra. In its place, Lucas has plans for a more casual Italian eatery.

After the success of Chin Chin in the CBD over the last year, Lucas has noticed a shift in the way diners are eating out and is keen to liven up and revitalise the Pearl brand. “It’s been 12 years, a generation and a lot of change has happened,” says Chin Chin media manager Jess Ho. “We want to keep the Pearl brand alive…we need to redefine fine-dining.”

And so from September, the current Pearl premises will see Lucas take on an Italian restaurant with pizza and pasta and a cocktail and salumi bar – something quite traditional, they tell us. “Chris worked in Italy when he was younger,” says Ho, “and they were cooking up big plates of chicken, beef, pork and veggies – simple food, slow cooked all night. So it’s this roasting mentality and going back to simple eating,” she reveals. It will be far more casual and affordable than their current offering.

But what of Pearl, you ask? Well, Pearl – in a new form – will be moving to a yet-to-be-disclosed location in the city, but not for 12 or 18 months. In the meantime, the Pearl team will begin work on their new and improved city restaurant and, to give people a snapshot of what they’ll be doing there, Lucas will be holding a series of underground dinners that will see dishes from past Pearl menus, as well a some of what’s to come.

But for now, this week is your last chance to dine at the original Pearl restaurant and bar on Church Street. Pop in while it’s still there.

Pearl Restaurant + Bar
631–633 Church Street, Richmond
(03) 9421 4599

pearlrestaurant.com.au