Mr McConnell, who writes a recipe column for The Age’s Good Food section, has not yet decided on a concept for the site, but it is expected to be a high-end venue that will not be based on any of his current offerings.
He hopes to open the doors at 33 Russell Street, Melbourne, by the end of the year.
The high-profile corner site was formerly the home of upmarket electronics retailer Bang & Olufsen.
Kennedy Luxury Group, Bang & Olufsen’s Australian distributor, late last year unexpectedly announced its relationship with the electronic goods maker had abruptly ceased and that B&O had appointed Singapore-based MJ Group in its place.
Since then B&O has not had a retail presence in Melbourne.
Colliers International’s Stephanie Harding said Cavendish House’s uniqueness prompted the building’s landlord to look at marketing it for lease to hospitality operators.
Ms Harding said demand from hospitality was “not slowing down”.
“The buildings in the area are quite unique and you have a bunch of Melbourne’s best hospitality operators in the one location,” she said.
“The space was on the market for only two months. Demand was pretty strong.”
Colliers leased the space in a seven year deal but declined to comment on financial details. Market sources contacted by The Age suggest the quoted rent was between $450,000 to $500,000 per annum.
While Collins Street is known for its luxury fashion retailers, Flinders Lane behind has become renowned for hospitality. The tangle of laneways off the street have proved a magnet for hip new restaurants.
Tucked in a half city block east of Mr McConnell’s new space are some of the city’s best food and drink offerings, including Coda, Chin Chin, GoGo Bar, Jack’s Bones, Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar, Cherry, Tonka and Lee Ho Fook.
Mr McConnell signed the lease before flying out for the Los Angeles Times’ festival LA Food Bowl, where he’ll be teaming up with West Hollywood fusion restaurant EP & LP on a Supernormal-based menu and speaking on a panel about the influence of the Australian food culture on the global dining scene.
Property Editor at The Age and BusinessDay journalist for Fairfax’s theage.com.au, smh.com.au, watoday.com.au and brisbanetimes.com.au.