One of the country’s most esteemed restaurateurs, Chris Lucas (pictured, right), has secured one of Melbourne’s favourite dining spaces for his next venue.
Mr Lucas will take over the Crossley Street space (pictured, top) occupied by Becco on a lease expiring in 2021.
Becco opened in 1996, replacing space previously occupied by Pellegrini’s Tavola Freddo Cantina.
Pellegrini’s – established in 1954 and considered the first Melbourne’s café to use an expresso machine – is expected to continue to operate its popular Italian eatery next door.
Last November, the restaurant made headlines when its high-profile co-owner, Sisto Malaspina, was killed in a terrorist attack on Bourke Street.
Mr Lucas’ other Melbourne restaurants include Chin Chin and Kisume.
Last year, the businessman committed to two as yet unopened restaurant projects – Batard at 19-21 and 23 Bourke Street, and 80 Collins Street – which would be a “reboot” of the Sepia restaurant.
“I have signed a long-term lease for the site currently known as Becco at 11-25 Crossley Street, which will take effect in 2021,” Lucas said in a statement, reported by website goodfood.com.au in this item.
“I’d like to state that we must respect the fact that the site is currently leased to Simon [Hartley], who has successfully run Becco for almost 20 years and has made it one of Melbourne’s most admired and respected restaurants.”
Becco will seek a new home after vacating Crossley Street for Mr Lucas.
Mr Hartley told goodfood.com.au that the relinquishing of the lease was not by mutual agreement, breaching an assurance from the landlord’s father that there would be a lease renewal option.
“Unfortunately when the time came, that wasn’t honoured,” Mr Hartley said.