Good news for Grappa’s fans: restaurant to relocate to Starstreet Precinct in August
Originally published at the South China Morning Post on June 24, 2016.
Classic dining joint Grappa’s Ristorante is set to relocate to the Starstreet Precinct in August, clearing up uncertainty over its fate.
The restaurant’s parent company El Grande Concepts recently signed a lease for the new premises with landlord Swire Properties.
John Robertson, marketing director for El Grande, told the Post on Friday that the new Grappa’s will be located at 20 Queen’s Road East, opposite Three Pacific Place and about 500 metres from its current location. The new venue will open in late August, about a week after the existing restaurant closes.
“We’re obviously sad to be leaving the old space. It’s hard to leave your home after 26 years, but we’re happy to be relocating nearby,” Robertson said. “We’re very grateful for the support we’ve had.”
The new Grappa’s will have the same menu and other “basic elements” as the existing restaurant, but will incorporate a fresh design, Robertson said.
While the existing Grappa’s is just under 250 square metres, the new site will be smaller, at about 160 square metres. Staff at the current Grappa’s will be relocated to the new establishment, he added.
“That’s important for us because they’ve built relationships with customers. They’re what made Grappa’s successful over the years.”
Robertson added that Grappa’s has 45 full- and part-time staff. “We are still working on the transfer of staff to the new restaurant,” he said.
Having operated in the luxury Admiralty mall for 26 years, Grappa’s is one of several classic restaurants that have recently been pushed out of Pacific Place as its developer moves to diversify the range of brands in the mall and combat falling retail sales and tourism numbers.
Popular American family diner Dan Ryan’s closed in April, while Domani – another restaurant owned by El Grande – moved out in 2014 to make way for a new Swire concept restaurant. Swire plans to include 50 per cent more food and beverage outlets in Pacific Place.
“We value our long-term partnership with El Grande group. We are very happy to be strengthening our relationship with them in the Starstreet Precinct, the area around Three Pacific Place which we have developed over the years into a fashionable wining, dining and lifestyle neighbourhood,” said a Pacific Place spokesperson.
Following reports on the potential closure of Grappa’s in March, loyal customers set up a Facebook group in a last-ditch attempt to petition Swire to save the establishment, arguing that the community was being deprived of a “very successful and popular” restaurant. The group had garnered over 1,300 likes as of Friday.
Grappa’s is particularly popular among lawyers, who like to dine there between High Court hearings.
In March, Swire said that El Grande refused their offer to submit proposals for a new restaurant concept at the existing premises and elsewhere in Pacific Place.
“We’ve had lasting success doing Italian food under the Grappa’s name. It just wouldn’t make sense for us to start all over again with some other cuisine such as Spanish tapas,” Robertson said.
The new Grappa’s will join an existing El Grande restaurant, Slim’s. The current premises will be taken over by Bread Street and BLT Burger owners Dining Concepts later this year.