Pizzeria grabs slice of train hub shake-up

Restaurateur Paul Mathis will complete a retail shake-up of Melbourne's Southern Cross railway hub when he opens a large restaurant at the station.

Restaurateur Paul Mathis will complete a retail shake-up of Melbourne's Southern Cross railway hub when he opens a large restaurant at the station.

Mr Mathis' new 250-seat pizza-focused pub will sit under one of the station's yellow administration pods near Collins Street and is expected to be completed in mid-July.

Mr Mathis' CV boasts a string of the city's much-loved and talked about eateries, from Joe's Garage and Blue Train to Soulmama and Taxi.

He is well known for his popular Firechief pizzeria in Hawthorn East and South Wharf restaurants Bangpop (Thai) and Akachochin (Japanese) but his new venture will be a "simple" foodie-style pub, the Network Public Bar and Pizzeria on the main concourse.

The seven-day-a-week restaurant is a key piece in an extensive $22 million retail refurbishment of Southern Cross by the station's manager, Assetco Management, which began in 2011.

It included installing a mini-Woolworths supermarket as an anchor tenant and increasing the number of shops from 28 to 48, expanding the retail space by more than 40 per cent, from 4700 square metres to 6800 square metres.

CBRE's retail leasing team Zelman Ainsworth and Max Cookes said they were close to finalising the last tenant at the station.

The 40 million commuters passing through each year had attracted a range of new tenants, including most recently In a Rush Espresso and mobile phone retailer Vodafone, Mr Ainsworth said.

"The rapid rise in commuter numbers and changes in the precinct's demographics required a rethink of the retail mix," Mr Ainsworth said.

The station's other food tenants include a Hungry Jack's, Red Rooster, Pie Face, Sugar Station, Tower Sushi, Mad Mex and Grill'd.

Mr Mathis said the Network Public Bar would serve simple, napoletana pizza as well as other pub-style food to a clientele of business people, travellers and footy fans. "Just because it's in a station, doesn't mean it's not going to be stylish. The pizza will be as good as any pizza you will find," he said.

Collingwood-based CHT architects have designed the 362-square-metre venue which, with an outdoor seating area and standing room, will hold up to 300 people.

It replicates similar venues at other large railway hubs such as London's Paddington Station.

Mr Mathis will run the business in partnership with the Dominion Hotel Group. In 2010, Dominion brought the Castello Group's 10 Victorian hotels, including the Angler's Tavern, Templestowe Hotel, Long Beach Hotel and Royal Oak Hotel.

sjohanson@fairfaxmedia.com.au