Award-winning bar Employees Only is set to open in Sydney’s CBD on Saturday 24 November

Employees Only outposts can be found across the globe in New York, Hong Kong, Miami and Singapore, but the Sydney location will be notably different and tailored to the local market.

“I’m not here to bring a New York restaurant and bar to Sydney, we’re bringing a concept and energy,” Employees Only co-founder Dushan Zaric tells Hospitality.

“We have intentionally designed the space to be quite different from any other Employees Only. It’s bit more upmarket simply because we’re in an area that hosts a demographic that like fine-crafted things.”

The speakeasy will be located in a heritage-listed basement on Sydney’s Barrack Street – just keep your eyes peeled for the signature ‘Psychic’ neon sign.

Renowned for their cocktails, the menu features a balanced approach of classics and drinks that are unique to Sydney.

Among the Manhattan cocktail and the Amelia (Wyborowa vodka, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur shaken with fresh lemon and pureed blackberries), Sydney will debut The Down Payment, which is a nod to the notorious avocado/housing affordability comment made by former treasurer Joe Hockey.

“The Down Payment incorporates pisco, an avocado cordial we make in-house, acquafaba and it actually has a dollar sign stenciled with ground coffee on top of the drink,” says Zaric.

“We also have an aperitif cocktail called Another Secret Crush with sparkling wine, raspberry liqueur from St George California, French grapefruit liqueur and some tequila. Then we have a few drinks from LA like our improved Margarita and Hope Monkey that have been tweaked.”

Employees Only veteran Robert Krueger has been appointed principal bartender and will work alongside head bartender Dula Lorenzohewa. Zaric says it hasn’t been hard to find bar workers to staff the venue, but wait staff are another story.

“I have noticed there’s a huge discrepancy of availability of professional staff,” he says. “Bar teams seem to be more available than servers. We had a huge challenge finding good servers, which we did in the end, but we found it easy staffing the bar because everyone wanted to work with us. We have a great team of bartenders who are so talented and enthusiastic.”

Food plays a large role at Employees Only, with the concept well-known for its steak tartare, bone marrow poppers and complimentary chicken soup served at the end of the night, which is a comforting nudge to eat and go home.

Chefs Aurelien Girault and Leo Garnier are running the kitchen and have designed a dinner menu (5-11pm) that covers heartier fare and a bar menu (5pm-3am) spanning oysters, charcuterie and caviar service.

Diners will be able to feast on risotto nero with calamari and the signature EO beef burger. Local ingredients such as salt bush and quandong make appearances on the menu, but Employees Only is more interested in providing top-knotch service over pushing the seasonal/local card many venues rely on.

“For me, as a restaurateur, it’s really important not to emphasise local ingredients or seasonal ingredients because that’s something that should be understood,” says Zaric. “Of course we will have great food using local and seasonal ingredients, but  what’s special is how you treat people; that’s what we’re really good at.”

Doors to Employees Only open at 6pm on Saturday.



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