Beach house

Melbourne’s biggest cafe group has taken over Beach House Geelong – and added a freewheeling Asian restaurant upstairs

Industry giant Only Hospitality runs more than 30 cafes and restaurants around Melbourne, including the Collingwood and Bentwood Hotel in Fitzroy, as well as the recently opened Pantry Glen Iris. With the city locked down and an existing presence on the Mornington Peninsula, Geelong and the Surf Coast was a logical next step.

“Our manager Julian [Moussi] had his eye on the building for about a year and a half,” says Tom Whitechurch, Marketing Manager at Only Hospitality. “[The previous owner] decided they wanted to sell the business and he was the first to get it.

And this former owner? None other than the Mulberry Group, which originally created iconic cafes The Kettle Black, Higher Ground and Top Paddock, and now run Liminal, Hazel and Dessous in the CBD.

The building was completely renovated with a smart layout by Studio Esteta in 2018, so Only Hospitality reopened the lavish waterfront venue as a Pavilion less than a day after taking possession.

“[We] has made it a bit more of a luxury and elegant seaside space,” says Whitechurch.

Downstairs, a spacious dining room serves up everything from shrimp and kimchi omelettes to roasted macadamia nuts and white chocolate French toast. A kiosk on the front sidewalk sells potato cakes, dim sims, fish ‘n’ chips and take-out coffee made with beans from Inglewood, Only Hospitality’s coffee-roasting arm.

The first floor, which was previously closed to the public, has been transformed into Caledonia Shores, a pan-Asian restaurant run by former Lucas Group chefs John Woo and Allan Hwang. In the evening they serve homemade beef brisket bao and corn on the cob covered in coconut butter and sambal and finished with curry salt, curry leaves and finely grated cheese. For something a little lighter, look to the trevally sashimi with nahm jim, coconut and lime. “I think about 95% of our tables order it,” says Whitechurch.

Overlooking Geelong’s waterfront, the restaurant is also a wonderful reception area which can be booked on request.