After spending the last 25ish years building a pub empire in Sydney and surrounds, hospitality titan Justin Hemmes is expanding south. It’s happening, he’s gotten himself a property in Melbourne, and the tendrils of Merivale are creeping across the southern border.

Hemmes, who now has a catalogue of around 70 pubs, venues, and establishments in Sydney, has gone and picked himself up his first venue in Melbourne – and first spot outside of Sydney – for the next phase of his total domination of the Aussie hospo industry.

The Melbourne leg of the sprawling Merivale realm is set to kick off with the Tomasetti House on Flinders Lane in the city’s CBD, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting Hemmes and his team will begin work on the space later this year.

It’s reported that Hemmes finalised a deal of over $40 million to buy out the current owners, who purchased the property for $16.2 million back in 2014. Hooly dooly that’s a couple of shiny pennies, a bitta cash goind around there.

Tomasetti House currently houses The Mill House bar in its basement, a speakeasy-style bar that’s been operating downstairs for the last six years.

Above ground, the building is currently fully leased out, with various office and retail spaces, and the ground level space was where Zomp Shoez had its long-running Melbourne CBD store, until the company briefly closed in November 2020.

Merivale’s entrance into Flinders Lane is set to put them in decent company, considering restaurants like Chin Chin, Cumulus Inc, Supernormal, Mrs Singh, and Kisumé all share the same strip, and the whole precinct is within spitting distance of Flinders St Station, making it one of the most popular nightspots in the CBD.

It’s not yet known what Hemmes and Merivale plan to do with the seven-storey brick and bloestone building, but I’m crossing my fingers it’s absolutely nothing like the Ivy. Please, don’t do that to Melbourne, Justin.

Image: Getty Images / Don Arnold