The Argentinian grill’s co-owners Elvis Abrahanowicz, Ben Milgate and Joe Valore intend to convert the existing Porteño into a beautiful space exclusively for events, while using the MoVida site for a redesigned restaurant. “We’ve reached our limit,” says Porteño’s Sarah Doyle. “Ben and Elvis want to try to do more Argentinian things, but we’ve been stretched to the limit as far as the kitchen goes.”
The team made the decision to expand into two distinct spaces following multiple requests to host weddings, private events and live music gigs. “We’ve always put the restaurant as a priority and declined a lot of things because we couldn’t close it on a Saturday for a wedding,” says Doyle. Originally intended for events, the Cleveland Street location is in an old heritage building, boasting an atrium, two levels for drinks and food and a highly coveted 3am license.
An overhaul of the MoVida space will begin in July, with interiors designed in-house. Doyle reassures us the classics will remain on the menu, along with additions they can’t talk about at this stage. “We’re still going to have the parilla, the asador and more. But expand it,” she says. The team also plans to add a private dining room and wine cellar, which will house the largest Malbec collection in the country.
Doyle and husband Elvis Abrahanowicz are taking a two-week research trip to Argentina to rejuvenate and inspire themselves for the coming changes. “It’s been six years, so we just want to evolve. We want to stay excited about what we do,” she says.
Unfazed by the decrease in foot traffic in the area, Doyle is confident that if people want to dine at Porteño, they’ll find it. “When we went to Cleveland Street, people thought we were mad,’ she says. “But it doesn’t matter where you are, if people want to go, they go. If they don’t want to, they won’t. We’re going to make it work.”
Porteño’s Cleveland Street location will operate as a restaurant until October.