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Superstar chef Jamie Oliver’s growing Jamie’s Italian empire has a new outlet in Brisbane’s city centre.

Story: Lucie Robson

Jamie’s Italian Brisbane:

237 Edward St, Brisbane QLD www.jamieoliver.com
Like its siblings in Adelaide and Perth, the long-awaited  Brisbane restaurant is housed in a historic location: the heritage-listed Rowes Arcade building. Opened in November last year, Brisbane is the biggest of the family of five (which also includes Canberra and Sydney), with a proper two-level layout and capacity of 240. Since its foundation in the UK in 2008, the Jamie’s brand has grown to 30 restaurants worldwide, capitalising on Oliver’s star power and friendly approach to Italian cooking. In Australia, the Jamie’s brand is controlled by the Keystone Group, which took over Pacific Restaurants last year. Karen Westfield is the Jamie’s Italian Australia General Manager. She says the well-known dishes and unique atmosphere work together to create something special that Australians want: “Great-quality rustic Italian food at amazing value, coupled with a friendly, buzzing atmosphere,” she says.

WHERE ELSE BUT QUEENSLAND

Westfield explains what makes the Brisbane restaurant at home in Queensland. “Each of our restaurants has something unique about them and Brisbane is our only venue on two full levels,” she says. “The design has some real Queenslander styles in it, such as the stained coloured glass at the entrance, and plenty of timber throughout.” She says the high ceilings and exposed tubing on the ground level create a more industrial, yet intimate feel: “almost of a club lounge”. Although each Australian location has custom interior design, they adhere to a theme that Westfield describes as “rustic”, although they do all feature a signature chandelier. The chandeliers are designed by London firm Martin Brudnizki Design Studio (MBDS), which consulted with Australian design firm peckvonhartel on all the Jamie’s Italian restaurants downunder. peckvonhartel was enlisted to translate a design concept originally created by MBDS in the UK, focusing on the theatrical nature of visiting a restaurant and the relaxed, collective enjoyment of Italian cuisine in different cities around the world.  

CASUAL, ECLECTIC, FUN

peckvonhartel describes the collaboration thus: “MBDS did the concept design and peckvonhartel developed the design and produced the construction documentation, coordinated the building services consultants, and provided ongoing advice during the construction phase of the project.” The team took around 10 months to bring Jamie’s Italian Brisbane to life. Bright colours and an eclectic variety of materials put a Queensland twist on the familiar look of Jamie’s Italian Australia. It’s “casual, eclectic, fun, warm and welcoming”.

ITALIAN EXPERIENCE

The Brisbane experience allows for a variety of environments, tastes and encounters. Entering from the street, the hungry Jamie fans encounter ‘Jamie’s Bar’, featuring a neon sign and a sparkling marble bar ‘island’ dedicated to the art of antipasti, with meat and vegetables hung from on high. That’s just one of the stand-out design elements, according to peckvonhartel. Another is definitely the “island antipasti bar adorned with cured meats flanked by an open dining area furnished with brightly-coloured industrial stools and booths,” as it’s described by the designers. Or, “a spectacular chandelier comprised of oversized silver-tipped lamps extends from the entry deep into the restaurant to engage passers-by and entice them into the bustling eatery. Exposed sandstone walls and timber floorboards reveal the character of the original building.” The main restaurant level is downstairs and there’s another bar down there as well. Throughout the two floors, bright lamplight gleams off the polished timber and illuminates the bright hot pinks, yellows and blues of the seating and tiling. Recycled timber and corrugated iron, metal chairs, leather upholstery and copper trim details stand out as insightful uses of material.

STAMP OF APPROVAL

The man himself approved of the Brisbane restaurant’s character. In an interview with the Courier-Mail last year, Jamie Oliver enthused about the Queensland-inspired touches like the leadlight glass, and said that he was impressed with the grand traditional building. The newspaper reported upon the restaurant’s opening that up to 45 chefs will be working in the big kitchens, making a sizeable amount of pasta.

STRUCTURAL REVEAL

peckvonhartel believes that it’s quite evident what Australian diners like about visiting Jamie’s Italian: delicious food with some extra celebrity power. “The food is, of course, tasty yet reasonably affordable. The casual, welcoming and fun dining atmosphere and having the chance to be part of the Jamie Oliver brand.” The key to maintaining the relaxed atmosphere is in the design. “An eclectic mix of furniture, booths, lighting, colours and materials have been introduced to create a fun, exciting yet relaxed dining atmosphere for guests,” noted our peckvonhartel spokesperson. peckvonhartel says that the building’s original structure presented some challenges in the transformation process. “The configuration of the staff, bathroom and back of house storage spaces presented a real challenge as the original fabric of the building revealed some surprises. A large structural concrete beam meant we couldn’t punch through a wall to provide a route for deliveries so we had to find another solution for getting deliveries into the restaurant.” The challenges were overcome and the future of the Jamie’s Italian brand looks bright. Westfield says that the company are always keen to scout new locations for Jamie’s expansion around Australia, although nothing has been confirmed at this stage. The match of menu, celebrity and design has so far proved delectable.

CONTACTS

peckvonhartel: (03) 9934 7333 or www.pvh.com.au Arcon (Builder): www.arcon-nsw.com.au MBDS: www.mbds.com