The wait is almost over for the grand opening Williamstown’s Hellenic Hotel, the first western suburbs venture for MasterChef star George Calombaris.
After lengthy delays and an extensive refurbish of the iconic old Hobsons Bay Hotel in Ferguson Street, the Greek-style restaurant will open its doors this Friday night.
The opening night sold out within three hours of bookings opening in May.
Calombaris told Star Weekly on Wednesday night he wanted to be respectful of the Williamstown community and dining scene.
“We’re making an announcement next week, we’re basically being one of the major sponsors for the Williamstown Football Club,” he said.
“We’re not just coming in here with our puffed-up chests going, ‘We’re the city guys coming into Williamstown’.”
“We are the guys that have 380 staff and a few venues around town, but we’re coming here to show some respect and also really become a community-focused venue rather than ‘look at us sleek city dwellers coming into town’.”
The MasterChef star had hoped to open last December on the site of the former Hobsons Bay Hotel, which he and his partners in restaurant group Made Establishment bought for $3 million in 2013.
Calombaris said he was touched by the number of locals who had dropped by in recent days to offer warm words and congratulations.
“I mean everyone has just been so warm and so lovely. Now it’s up to us. The pressure’s on us big-time.
“I’m nervous – in a good way – to make sure that we really look after people.
“It’s exciting – that’s what it’s all about.”
Calombaris said the menu plays on some familiar Hellenic Republic notes but will have a local character all of its own.
Downstairs dining offers space for about 100 diners while many more can be seated on the more casual second level.
A rooftop bar is expected to be open in time for summer.
Details and bookings: hellenicrepublic.com.au
-with Benjamin Millar