Six months ago Jon Adgemis’s Public Hospitality took over operations at CBD restaurant Alpha. Today the venue – opened by chef Peter Conistis in 2013, and funded by the Hellenic Club, which is parked a couple of doors down – announced it is no longer part of the group.

Three months ago Public Hospitality revealed former Masterchef judge George Calombaris would be stepping in as a “creative partner” at Alpha, delivering a “lighter, more playful” menu. Calombaris’s arrival marked Conistis’s departure.

As of today, Con Dedes (Flying Fish, Sala) has taken over operations.

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The news comes amid a litany of financial issues for Public Hospitality – including a failed $500 million refinancing attempt and an alleged tax raid. The Australian Financial Review first published an article detailing the extent of the group’s debt in May 2023, a few months after Public acquired the group behind Maybe Sammy.

Despite the dark forecast the group continued to grow and draw high-profile talent. In May 2023, Clayton Wells (ex-Automata) joined as creative culinary director. In August the group expanded to Victoria. And in October Toby Wilson relocated his taqueria Ricos to Public’s Norfolk Hotel.

But the news coverage continued, with a reported $450 million debt-refinancing mission and plans to carve the group up. The Love Tilly Group (Fabbrica, Dear Saint Eloise, Ragazzi) announced the end of its partnership with Public.

“For the benefit of the staff and the suppliers, we can no longer, in good faith, continue to run our venues together with Public Hospitality,” said Love Tilly director Matt Swieboda in a statement in November 2023.

In March 2024, Public Hospitality announced it would refurbish Alpha, installing a new bar area and a possible karaoke room – not unlike that at Public’s Paddo cantina El Primo Sanchez.

Last month, ahead of a $400 million refinancing deal between Public and Deutsche Bank, Clayton Wells stepped away from the group and Melbourne-based lender Australia Pacific Mortgage Fund took control of El Primo Sanchez and Erskineville’s Kurrajong Hotel. In a statement at the time, the hospitality group said it’s, “Continuing to explore divestment of non-core assets and [the] establishment of a new fund to provide investment opportunities for investors seeking exposure to its hospitality and accommodation assets.”

Today, in a joint statement with Public, Hellenic Club president Nikolas Hatzistergos said Public’s decision to relinquish Alpha was mutually agreed upon. “Public Hospitality had advised us that their new financing is focused on company-owned real estate. We agreed they would depart as operators of Alpha and support the transition to the incoming experienced operator, [Con Dedes].”

A spokesperson for Public Hospitality said: “George Calombaris, who joined our Alpha team as a culinary consultant in March, is also supporting the operational team through this transition.”

Plans for Public’s other projects – including the opening of Noah’s Backpackers in Bondi, Erskineville’s Kurrajong Hotel, Balmain’s Town Hall and Collingwood’s Vine Hotel – are still on track, according to a statement from Public in May. There has been no update on the opening of Re, Matt Whiley’s sustainably powered bar, that was expected to open in the old La Salut space on May 14.

Additional reporting by Dan Cunningham.