The team behind Fei Jai and Barrio Chino is experiencing the full gamut of hospitality-industry highs and lows. Peter Lew and Nicole Galloway have announced that their Mexican restaurant Barrio Chino on Bayswater Road in Kings Cross will close in the coming months. It will be reopen as a pop-up burger-and-fries joint by early April. The change is down to two reasons: the end of the current lease, and the decrease in foot traffic in the Cross thanks to the controversial lockout laws.
“We’ve had a great time here in the past five years, and the last thing we want is to close the doors,” says Galloway. “What’s happening in the Cross now means there’s just no one around … and you really can’t sustain business without foot traffic.”
But the Barrio name and concept won’t vanish entirely. The new lease arrangement gives the team a chance to change format. It will focus on day trade and working with neighbouring businesses, including World Bar, to rebuild the atmosphere of the area. Following its recent burger pop-up with Deus Ex Machina, Barrio can take the burger concept further, which is actually part of a natural progression. “We were already looking for a new site for Barrio,” says Galloway, mentioning Double Bay and Barangaroo, “but we just didn’t find the right thing. So we’ll keep our lease for an extra year and see what happens after that.” Galloway says there might be a Mexican twist to what they’re planning, but it won’t be the same as the Deus pop-up.
Lew and Galloway also recently secured the space next door to their Potts Point venue, Fei Jai. They will knock through the wall to connect the two spaces and take over the venue from March 1. After a quick makeover the space will become a dumpling and cocktail bar. The team hopes to open the Fei Jai extension and the new Barrio burger pop-up in the early weeks of April.
Update: Barrio Chino's last night of trading is Sunday April 10.