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‘Greenfield sites troublesome but worthwhile’: TV chef

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
23 November 2017 2 minute readShare

It can be tempting to explore brand-new premises that are custom-made rather than retrofitting an existing property. Celebrity chef Matt Moran explores his experience of the differences involved.

As would be expected, Matt explained that greenfield sites are much more difficult to get up and running. However, he said these tend to be the most rewarding.

“To do a greenfield site is much more difficult. I’ve got two of them being built at the moment,” he said while speaking on the My Business Podcast.


“One in Brisbane, which is Little Big House, which is a pub in South Bank, which is an old Queenslander. Beautiful, beautiful site. Incredible site. Great venue. Great area. All brand-new. New precinct, which hopefully well build on that.

“But, its been three years in the making. Weve had a lot of heritage issues. We designed it from scratch. We built it. Were building it. And, from there to go three years is a long period of time.”


Matt said, by far, the most difficult has been a new flagship venue at Barangaroo on Sydney’s harbour foreshore.

“Barangaroo has probably been the hardest business Ive ever tried to open,” he said.

“Its been over four years now. Its a three-story place in Barangaroo. Its a building, which is standalone. Its the only standalone building in Barangaroo. And weve taken the whole three floors … thats a greenfield site. Thats from scratch. Budget blowouts. Cancellation issues. Licensing issues...

“You can do that, or you can go and buy Clovelly Hotel or The Chophouse, and buy it six weeks before and open it and keep running the way that it is.”



As Matt suggested, the difficulty that some business owners and entrepreneurs find themselves in with greenfield sites is investing heavily in the project only to realise that it is ultimately not an ideal location.

“I was gonna do a venue years ago in the city, and we got over a year into it and it was a massive site. I spent a lot of money on it. No one else in the company really wanted to do, except for me and [my business partner] Bruce,” he recalled.

“[However] we ended up pulling the pin on it; probably the smartest move I ever did.

“I dont think the site would have worked. Im not gonna name the site. But, yeah, it could have done a bit of damage if it didnt work. And strangely enough the site has never worked. Its never been taken on.”

The restaurateur and host of TV shows such as MasterChef and Paddock to Plate said that ultimately, the difference between make or break for a new business location comes down to your own ego.

“I think you’ve got to be careful with ego, and you think youre untouchable and you can do things,” he said.

“That was one of those moments where I thought: ‘Wow, how cool would that be?’ – but not realising the position where it was and really thinking about it.

“I suppose, the more we got into it – the more deeper we got into it, the more money were spending on it. Id done the design and everything ready to go to the D.A. Spent a lot of money on it. And then realising, wow, God, if this really does happen and it doesnt work … its gonna really hurt.”

Despite the sheer effort and cost of going brand-new, Matt insisted that doing so is worth it in the end.

“Its a lot harder to do clean sites, but its probably a little bit more rewarding in the end,” he said.

“Rewarding as building something and seeing something grow and open and being a success. I suppose money comes after that. But to me its the love of it. The love of building something, creating something from scratch.”

Hear more insights into how Matt built his own hospitality group on the My Business Podcast below:

‘Greenfield sites troublesome but worthwhile’: TV chef
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at [email protected]

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