Vue de Monde makeover to transform Fitzroy Gardens pavilion

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Key points

  • The City of Melbourne has leased the Fitzroy Gardens Pavilion to the fine dining group the Vue Group and chef Hugh Allen. 
  • The first tea room was opened in the Fitzroy Gardens in 1908 and the kiosk at the Fitzroy Pavilion was built in 1963. 
  • The Vue Group will complete a $4 million renovation of the pavilion and pay rent of $157,050. 

The luxury restaurant operator behind Vue De Monde is taking over the Fitzroy Gardens pavilion in East Melbourne after the council failed to find a community tenant.

The Vue Group will undertake a $4 million renovation to open what is being billed as a possible “Vue De Monde in the park” or “Noma in the gardens”.

Hugh Allen, chef at Vue de Monde. The Vue Group is taking over the Fitzroy Gardens Pavilion.

It has secured a 15-year lease from the City of Melbourne, paying $157,050 a year, for the pavilion, which was previously used as a space for community groups and tearooms.

The pavilion has been closed since 2017 and the council originally looked to lease the building to a tenant for use as a community space but “was unsuccessful in identifying a community tenant”.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the proposal the City of Melbourne received from chef Hugh Allen and his team was “really fantastic”, but the council declined to reveal further details.

“It has a quality and a scale of investment and ambition that I think really matches the status of Fitzroy Gardens,” Capp said.

Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece told a council meeting this week that the council “just couldn’t make it stack up” to retain the pavilion as a community building, and instead it would operate four days a week as a restaurant and for three days as a facility “doing community services”.

“If you think about some of the great parks of the world, a Central Park in New York City, it’s got the Tavern on the Green,” he said.

“With someone like Hugh Allen coming into the Fitzroy Gardens, who knows what might be possible? It might be a Noma on the Garden, referencing obviously Hugh’s apprenticeship at Noma in Copenhagen, the world’s top restaurant. It might be Vue De Monde in the Park or Hugh De Monde, as its seems to be called these days… or it might be something completely new that Melburnians haven’t experienced before.”

The first tearoom was opened in the Fitzroy Gardens in 1908 and the kiosk at the pavilion was built in 1963.

Greg Bisinella, president of the East Melbourne Group, at the Fitzroy Gardens pavilion. Credit: Eddie Jim

The pavilion was most recently used by the Creative Spaces program to provide opportunities to artists to help reactivate and reinvigorate Melbourne.

Greg Bisinella, president of the East Melbourne Group, said the residents’ group was glad that the “dormant and underutilised venue” would be used again.

“We did tender to use it for community use, but we understand that given it is such an iconic venue, it might be hard to give it to a community group,” he said. “It appears they have gone for the top end of town. The council has to make some money somehow.”

Roger Teale, general manager of property, infrastructure and design at the City of Melbourne, said the Vue Group had promised to undertake community learning and growth-focused initiatives including native ingredient training sessions, Indigenous bush-cooking workshops and apprenticeships.

The first 12 months of the lease are being provided rent-free to enable the Vue Group to undertake its renovation and the rental is set to increase by 3.5 per cent a year.

The Vue Group and Allen did not respond to requests for comment.

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