Big Poppa's to open on Oxford Street

Photography: Chris Chen

It's a case of goodbye sailor and hello daddy as a pair of Sydney nightlife players take over one of Oxford Street's most prized sites. Lewis Jaffrey, a Scots-born veteran of the Swillhouse Group (Shady Pines, The Baxter Inn, Frankie's), and The Lobo Plantation's Jared Merlino are turning late-night Darlinghurst fixture Hello Sailor into Big Poppa's, and it sounds mighty promising.

The look, Jaffrey says, will be very different. Upstairs will be an Italian restaurant; the chef is yet to be named, but the focus is going to be cheese. Downstairs, meanwhile, will be a cocktail lounge that plays nothing but hip-hop, from Grandmaster Flash to Kendrick Lamar. (Biggie Smalls, Jaffrey reckons, "was the original big poppa".)

And the drinks? They'll be made by none other than Jaffrey himself. It's been some time since he's been behind the stick, having been kicked upstairs into more of a management role at Swillhouse in recent years, but he assures us he still knows one end of a bar spoon from the other.

"It's been a while, I know, but it's time to dust off the rusty shaker and put it to work again," he says. There'll be a run of old classics like the Champs Elysees, Algonquin and a Pegu Club mixed in with some "more playful" drinks like pimped-up versions of the West Indies Yellow Bird and a Sunshine Fizz.

The site is licensed till three, and the plan is to serve food right the way through. Jaffrey and Merlino say they're looking at a July opening, so some of Sydney, at least, looks set to stay open. Bring it on.

Big Poppa's will open in July 2016, 96 Oxford St, Darlinghurst.

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