Is it weird to have the hots for a building site?

In my defence, the concrete box that’s slowly materialising on the corner of Marine Parade and Gibney Street in Cottesloe has a lot going for it. It’s right across from Cottesloe Beach. It has uninterrupted sightlines to the water. And even at this stage of construction, the svelte curves of its ocean-facing balconies already look like a million bucks. But as handsome as the project is at this stage things are going to look even better in early 2024 when the space opens as Gibney, an upmarket beachfront diner from the Kailis Hospitality Group (KHG).

Although the group has form when it comes to waterfront eateries, Gibney represents a step up: not just for the KHG, but for the entire beachside suburb.

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“Cottesloe is the most famous beach in Western Australia,” says KHG managing director George Kailis. “For us, this is an opportunity to create a restaurant of significance in the state’s most significant beachside location. We’re West Australian and we’re here for locals, but we want people coming from Tokyo to Perth to go to Gibney. For us, it’s about creating a destination venue like no other.”

As Kailis told Broadsheet in July, he has lot of things working in his favour. In addition to being part of the luxe Waterfront Cottesloe precinct, Gibney will be the only hospitality offering in the precinct, making the restaurant as much a draw for well-heeled local residents as it is for visitors.

KHG has also secured the services of Zenifa Bowring and Rhys Bowring’s Rezen Studios, the East Fremantle design studio behind the classic look of goodtime Italian wine bar Vin Populi on Fremantle’s High Street. For Gibney, they’ve conjured an upmarket look that Kailis describes as “six-star Parisian hotel lobby meets Californian country club.”

The open kitchen will also have much to capture eaters’ attention. There will be a parilla-style grill and a charcoal oven – plus chef James Cole Bowen, one of the city’s most promising cooking talents. You might remember him from neighbourhood bars like The Corner Dairy as well as high-powered local kitchens Le Rebelle and Restaurant Amuse.

At Gibney, he’ll be presenting his vision of French brasserie cooking told using topnotch West Australian ingredients. Think veal tonnato sandwiches, vols au vent with local snails, niçoise salad made with local seared tuna, tomahawk steaks to share, and an utterly classic lemon tart. Our man is also excited about leveraging the Kailis group’s seafood connections to source fish direct from market: think top-quality King George whiting, perhaps, or lesser-seen species such as flounder. Like Kailis, he’s all about repping the home team.

“I’ve always said that if you find the products, the menu kind of writes itself,” says Cole Bowen. “It’s always been that way for me. We want Gibney to be uniquely West Australian. We want it to be uniquely Cottesloe. We want it to be uniquely Gibney. The focus is going to be doing something that hasn't been done here. We don’t want to be that old kind of copy-and-paste brasserie, but moving with the times, staying up to date and just evolving.”

Aaron Commins, the group’s general manager and one of the sharper wine guys around town, has put together a list befitting an upmarket prospect like Gibney. Champagne and fizz will feature, naturally, as will classic Australian producers, along with a considered edit of spirit producers from around the world. Rather than having an exhaustive selection of products, lists will be producer-focused, featuring four or five offerings from each maker: so think a rosé, a non-vintage cuvee, a vintage cuvee plus a prestige cuvee for every champagne house on the list.

Gibney is slated to open at 40 Marine Parade, Cottesloe, in autumn 2024.

Head here to hear about what else the Kailis group has planned for 2024.