Quick to pounce on the Beach Palace Hotel building once it became available, it took Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes just days to conceptualise the three-storey Coogee Pavilion. “We’d wanted to do something like this for a while, and when the building presented itself, it was ideal for it,” Hemmes says. “It has to have one of the best views for a hospitality venue in the country.”
Six months after the opening of the family friendly ground-floor restaurant, Merivale has announced the Coogee Pavilion Rooftop – complete with four indoor and outdoor bars and a sweeping balcony – opened at the end of 2014, a day before the clock ticked over.
The Rooftop’s design was based on a fictional character, conjured up by Hemmes and his team. This character, an eccentric botanist named Mr Wylie (reminiscent of the neighbouring Wylie’s Baths), resided in a leafy conservatory. “We wanted it to feel like a discovery of this abandoned rooftop where this eccentric individual had lived,” Hemmes says.
Listening to Hemmes reveal more about Mr Wylie and his imagined life, it’s easy to forget he’s talking about a bar. “There are all these different journeys within the space,” he explains, after describing how each of the four bars will reflect a different part of the character’s life. There’ll be a swanky entertaining area, a laboratory, a greenhouse and a more private space which delves deeper into the botanist’s travels and experiences.
The Eastern-Mediterranean menu draws influence from Turkish, Lebanese and Greek cuisines, with Hemmes promising, “Food that’s packed with flavour and lots of small dishes great for sharing.” We’re talking grilled meats and smoked seafood – all cooked over the charcoal grill with the guidance of executive chef Jordan Toft.
This casual approach to food is just one of the ways Coogee Pavilion hopes to attract all kinds of patrons. “It’s accessible to everyone. There aren’t many venues you could say that really suit all walks of life,” says Hemmes. “That’s very rare. It’s amazing to see all demographics enjoying the one venue together.”