The Bar Copains team kicked a big goal with its tiny Surry Hills wine bar last year. Today, Morgan McGlone and partners Nathan and Sali Sasi announced that they’re going big big. The trio will open Bessie’s and Alma’s – a Mediterranean restaurant and cocktail bar respectively – in the old Chef’s Warehouse site on Albion Street in September.

“It’s such an iconic space for the hospitality industry,” Nathan tells Broadsheet. “I was thinking, I would hate to see this disappear into the fabric of Sydney just to become some kind of corporate office.”

Nathan was acclaimed for his sharp Mediterranean cooking at Nomad and Mercado, and will once again dive into the region at Bessie’s. “I love that style of cooking; it conjures images of southern Europe, being on a beach somewhere, eating incredible seafood.”

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At one point the trio planned to open a Greek restaurant, but a research trip to the Med last year blew the concept wide open.

“Rather than pigeonhole ourselves, we thought we could do some Spanish, some Greek, a little bit of Italian. Sali and I have Eastern European heritage, so there might be some Hungarian or Croatian inspiration in there as well.”

Plans are being laid for in-house cheese, charcuterie and butchering programs. At the very least, Nathan guarantees a menu of “simple, tasty food” cooked over wood and charcoal.

Bessie’s will share a formidable cellar with Alma’s, but otherwise the two venues will be distinct. Nathan says the one-two punch of Gardel’s Bar above the original Porteno on Cleveland Street served as inspiration. Think awesome cocktails, a killer snack menu and no reservations. “It’ll be very different to what happens in the restaurant,” he says.

Like Neil Perry and Phil Wood before them, Nathan and McGlone are naming the venues after strong women in their lives.

“Chef’s Warehouse was such an inspirational place for us in our careers, whether it was meeting other chefs, getting a cookbook or one of those amazing copper pans they used to stock there,” he explains. “But for Morgan and myself, our grandmothers were both instrumental in getting us into cooking and this industry. We felt like it was a good story to tell in the space.”

Bessie’s and Alma’s is slated to open at 111-115 Albion Street, Surry Hills, in September.