Ex-Keystone Group owners’ venue renovations put new bar centre-stage

07 December, 2018 by Craig Hawtin-Butcher

The former Keystone Group’s Anthony Prior and John Duncan have undertaken an intensive six-week renovation of waterfront restaurant Angelo’s in Cabarita, Sydney.

The substantial redesign of the Italian neighbourhood favourite now puts a new stylish marble island bar centre-stage.

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Co-owner Anthony Prior told TheShout: “We’re very much a destination venue in some respects, but we’re also blessed with a bunch of neighbours who haven’t always thought of us as a venue to pop down to on a weeknight. Not everyone wants a three-course meal on a Tuesday. People can [now] come down here after work for a drink, pop down for a light dinner if you’re a local, or come down for the whole experience.”

Shifting the previously small service bar area into the main restaurant space was no small matter.

“The works that we undertook were quite significant, all internal to the venue,” says Prior. “At the same time there were some fairly decent structural changes we made – moved some structural columns, put in a big steel beam, moved the bar. In a six week period that meant we had a really strict timeframe and we got there with the three or four hours to spare that you need. It was enjoyable and well-received by the locals. The venue is a testament to a lot of people’s hard work.”

Angelo's Cabarita, NSW

New bar at Angelo’s Cabarita, NSW, looking out across the bay views

 

“We took over the venue middle of 2017 [and were] mindful of the heritage,” says Prior. There was “no shortage of guests who have enjoyed special occasions here. We were mindful of retaining that and offering a fresh take on eventing and occasions. The one thing Angelo’s never had the opportunity to offer was a slightly more casual experience. We’ve been able to successfully combine the two and complement one another.”

Referencing the restaurant’s strong Italian ties, designer Julia Sullivan of Studio ARRC said: “Focal elements of this contemporary space include natural European oak floors, a Terrazzo marble bar, bespoke lighting and stunning images of Venice by renowned Australian photographer Stuart Cantor. Guests will find the new Angelo’s Cabarita very inviting, exciting and comfortable.”

The new island bar and bar menu now includes a selection of sharing-style plates, including crispy ricotta cigars, gnocco fritto with wagyu bresaola and main-style dishes of Clarence River whiting and fries and Angelo’s steak bun with Black Angus sirloin.

Head Chef Adrian Ursino has enhanced the a la carte menu and retained the restaurant’s trademark Mediterranean and Italian influences, while introducing a new grill section.

“Wurly Bird and Angelo’s are distinctly quite different – the demographic we talk to, the type of businesses we are,” Prior told TheShout. “That’s good for people like us who invest in businesses, as you get to try your hand at something a little bit different. It’s fun and dynamic for us.”

But the team have clearly tried to retain the venue’s lengthy history. “It’s very much in keeping with where Angelo’s has come from and the next phase of its life,” says Prior. “It hasn’t changed so dramatically that it isn’t Angelo’s.”

2019 will see a second stage to the renovation with the introduction of alfresco dining on a new deck and a potential new take-away kiosk servicing the adjacent beach and park.