From fine dining to local: Merivale’s Hotel Centennial GM

14 December, 2017 by Vanessa Cavasinni

Merivale took over operations of its latest purchase, Hotel Centennial, yesterday.  General Manager Megan Sullivan has made the move from restaurant manager at the group’s fine dining restaurant, est.

With little needed to be done to the stylish eastern suburbs pub’s décor, Merivale have put their spin on the offering, with The Paddington’s executive chef overseeing the menu, in collaboration with Fred’s executive chef Danielle Alvarez. Head chef James Evangelinos will run the kitchen day to day.

Advertisement

Running the venue is general manager Megan Sullivan, who has worked for the last seven years at Merivale’s fine dining restaurant est., the last two years as restaurant manager. Sullivan said she was looking to “expand her horizons outside of the fine dining world”, so when Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes asked her if she was interested in leading the floor at Hotel Centennial, she jumped at the chance.

Sullivan says that while at first it might be hard to let go of some of the finer details of the silver service model, she believes that the fundamentals of good service are the same in any venue.

“Essentially for me the service style is about making incredibly memorable dining experiences, and whether that’s in a fine dining sense or in a much more casual sense, for me the principles are the same.”

From her time at est., Sullivan says there are a few things she will be bringing into the role at Hotel Centennial.

“The first lesson I learnt was always keep a smile on your face. It doesn’t matter what kind of stress you’re going through, people can feel your energy and if you look relaxed then they’ll feel relaxed. It’s about how you make people feel, it’s not necessarily about what you do that makes lasting impressions.

“And creating a really great relationship with the locals – whether that be in est. with the CBD’s corporate clientele or the local community here in Woollahra – is a key to success.”

Kitchen and floor collaboration

Having worked together for only a whirlwind 10 days before taking over operations of the venue, Sullivan was highly complimentary of the chef team of Greeno, Alvarez and Evangelinos.

“I’m super inspired by their philosophy with food, and I feel really lucky to be involved in their creative process. It’s been awesome and I think the best is yet to come.”

The fare at Hotel Centennial is simple, with Sullivan suggesting that the wood-fired squid with aioli and cherry tomatoes is a stand-out, as is the whole flounder.

Sullivan will lead a team of 30 at Hotel Centennial, a large part of which has been retained from the previous ownership of the hotel. As part of her first general manager role, Sullivan says it’s important that the kitchen and floor staff feel like they are a part of the same team, and that communication is key to ensuring that is the case.

“I find that knowing everyone’s name, knowing a little bit about every chef as a general manager is really important for me, to feel like they have my respect  and that we can resolve any issues together.”

Merivale acquired the Hotel Centennial from Halcyon Hotels on 22 November. With an extensive renovation done by the Medich family in 2014, Merivale has no plans for a major revamp of the venue at this stage, with only a refresh of the front bar planned in 2018.

“I’m really excited to have Merivale make what is already an amazing venue even better.”