Gourmet chefs lease ex-George Calombaris restaurant in Kew

Ayhan Erkoc, Federico Perez Lopez and George Calombaris.

A Kew property formerly owner-occupied by celebrity chef George Calombaris has been re-let after sitting vacant for two years.

Cotham Dining opened on January 27.

Two more cooks – Ayhan Erkoc and Federico Perez Lopez – signed up for the double storey, 635 square metre building at 26-28 Cotham Road, opening a new Colombian and Turkish-themed venture, Cotham Dining, on January 27.

The starting annual rent is just under $200,000 on an agreement expiring in 2028.

Fitzroys’ James Lockwood represented the landlord who, prior to the tenant moving in, undertook a refurbishment with exposed brick and greenery.

Mr Erkoc and Mr Perez previously ran the kitchen at the Panama Dining Room in Fitzroy, and Richmond’s Middle Eastern themed Feast of Merit.

Building has attracted high profile occupiers

With 17 metres of Kew Junction frontage, 26 Cotham Rd, as the building is known, can host 150 people on the ground floor and another 100 upstairs.

Under the banner of Mr Calombaris’ Made Establishment, the property last traded as Vita, with Sardinian cuisine, managed by ex-Becco owner Simon Hartley.

For five years prior to 2019, it accommodated a Hellenic Republic Greek restaurant.

Between 2011-2013, the building operated as St Katherine’s, with served general Mediterranean food (story continues below).

George Calombaris sold 26-28 Cotham Road for $4.3 million in 2012, when it was trading as St Katherine’s.

It was while the asset was trading as this venue – in September, 2012 – when Mr Calombaris and a business partner offloaded it for $4.3 million with a leaseback (a sale price which reflected a respectable capital gain for the pair which outlaid $1.9m three years earlier).

Before being fit out for a restaurant in 2009, part of 26 Cotham Rd was occupied by local federal member, treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.

Hospitality operators in the market: agent

Mr Lockwood said hospitality operators have played a prominent role in Melbourne’s suburban retail market since the beginning of the COVID period.

“The spike in hospitality leasing began as a means for operators to quickly take advantage of heightened demand for delivery and takeaway services during lockdown, but now we’re receiving high quality enquiry from restaurant operators with more ambitious plans for the dining experience,” the agent added.

“This is a huge win for the area and for Melbourne’s culinary scene,” according to the executive.

Earlier this month we reported the prominent Sofia restaurant in nearby Camberwell could close, paving the way for the site and a neighbouring property to be replaced with a seven storey mixed use but predominantly residential project.

At about the same time Vita closed at Kew, two other venues controlled by Mr Calombaris – Jimmy Grants at Emporium Melbourne and in Fitzroy – were acquired by the Stalactites restaurant operators.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.