New French restaurant a “massive investment” to the CBD
There are plans for a new, and lavish, $10 million French-themed restaurant to be operated by renowned restaurateur Chris Lucas in the CBD. In what will be welcome news for food lovers, the three-storey restaurant called “Batard” will be situated at 19-21 and 23-29 Bourke St and will feature a rooftop bar and courtyard.
City of Melbourne councillors threw their support behind the proposal at their August 15 Future Melbourne Committee meeting when they endorsed an amended planning permit that sought demolition and reconstruction works to the site subject to heritage controls.
Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece described the proposal as a “massive investment” to the Bourke Hill Precinct, which is known for its vibrant retail, café, and restaurant culture, as well as prominent landmarks, including Hotel Windsor and the Princess Theatre.
“At one end of the market you’ve got titans like Chris Lucas and Justin Hemmes making massive investments in multiple new venues,” he said.
“At the other end, you’ve got a new wave of Asian restaurants which are so popular they have long queues of people waiting down the street; Hot Pot, Korean BBQ, and Ramen is so hot right now.”
Cr Reece said the application for the restaurant was to vary an already approved permit, with the latest proposal seeking works including the reconstruction of two 15.9-metre-high chimneys inside the heritage-graded building which would be “rebuilt brick by brick”.
“As part of the application, I do want people to know that one of the requirements is that every brick in the chimneys and walls will be recorded, placed in an inventory and fully restored before it is used to reconstruct those chimneys and the walls,” he said.
The site at 19-21 Bourke St is a “contributory” graded building while 23-29 Bourke St is a “significant” graded building in the council’s Heritage Places Inventory March 2022 (amended May 2023).
Mr Lucas is the mastermind behind iconic venues such as Chin Chin and Gogo Bar, and his new venue is anticipated to become a must-see destination for food enthusiasts when it’s expected to open next year.
The application received four objections with concerns the additional demolition would result in “facadism” (an architectural reference to preserving only the fronts of buildings), as well as drawings not showing the adjoining chimney or light well, and noise during construction and in the open areas once it is built.
Cr Reece acknowledged these concerns, but he gave assurances there would be “very strong conditions in place”.
I’m sure this will be an absolutely spectacular addition to Bourke St and the eastern hill precinct.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the proposed restaurant was “another statement for Melbourne projects like this continuing to grow the impressive reputation that Melbourne has not just as a culinary capital but as an experience capital”.
“It’s the sense of what makes Melbourne that specialness, that uniqueness that adds so much value for everyone in the Melbourne community,” she said.
“We say thank you to the Lucas group, to all of your advisers and stakeholders for the vision that is also in this project.” •
Captions: Render/Drawing of the proposed restaurant on Bourke St.