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Jacksons on George, revitalised
January 26th, 2024

Jacksons on George, revitalised

From redefining the culinary landscape to creating iconic destinations, DTLE’s Maurice Terzini's name is synonymous with innovation. The visionary behind landmark establishments such as Icebergs Dining Room and Bar on Bondi Beach, Terzini is also one of the creative brains behind the new Jacksons on George, its elevated fit out delivered by FDC in collaboration with DTLE. The grungy, CBD boozer has been well and truly revitalised with the creation of a three-floor, world-class venue that comprises a public bar, European-influenced bistro, and rooftop bar, blending design, culture, art, and gastronomy with impeccable service.

Faced with logistical challenges, including its prime location on George Street with significant construction around it, FDC navigated complexities, which included requiring a crane to lift a smaller crane onto the second floor to construct one large awning and attach two retractable awnings to it. “Getting every bit of material, from the joinery to the massive kitchen into the venue and up to the upper levels was a feat in itself," says Owen Lattin, Project Manager, Fitout & Refurbishment. But the end result is a triumph of design.

The bar top on the rooftop bar is completely crafted from brass which is ageing naturally over time. The staircase, which Owen describes as "almost like a little venue in itself," is a striking centrepiece. Designed with bare concrete walls, a curved balustrade, and dark hardwood handrails, it also features a custom two-tone stair runner, reminiscent of days past, in maroon and a rich Rolex green. The staircase's piece de resistance? Completely bespoke brass nosings on each of the 47 steps, engraved with the Jacksons on George name, all meticulously poured by a local Sydney brass foundry.

"My favourite part of the project is just how bespoke the rooftop is at night when you see it all lit up," Owen revealed. The veil over the bar has a powerful linear light installed, creating a captivating ambiance that can be tailored for special occasions or events.

The public bar echoes old Australian pubs with its old brush box timber and stone flooring made of singular pieces. In contrast, the European bistro has a glass facade that opens to alfresco dining and boasts dark timbers and a unique ancient maze ceiling. “The idea was to keep it really raw but make it really sleek and individual at the same time and it's worked really well,” says Owen.

6 Questions with Maurice Terzini

FDC sat down with Terzini to chat about his vision for the project and why it’s set to become an iconic destination in the Sydney CBD.

What was your vision for Jackson on George?

We wanted the public bar to be like a good Australian pub, but still with an elevated product. We're surrounded by some pretty epic buildings and multiple tourist hotels. For the rooftop bar, we wanted it to be a great urban rooftop.

The bistro was the easiest one to consider. It needed to be simple, and I think that we've nailed that. Bistro George has come alive. It's telling a really nice story. I think it's the perfect dining room for Sydney for the next 10 years. It's not going to date. It's right on-point.

Do you have any favourite aspects of the design?

I wanted Jacksons on George to be accessible to everyone, so I think that the staircase itself is pretty epic, because it allows for good traffic flow from the ground floor right up. It's quite a beautiful, grand staircase, so the traffic up and down the staircase is not congested. And that beautiful piece of artwork in the stairwell from Marty Baptistis probably one of the best things.

How did FDC help you deliver your vision?

FDC did an amazing job of helping to deal with all the regulations. The do’s and don’ts of such a big building. They really managed to deliver the design integrity that we wanted. Working with the guys was great. I removed myself from a lot of that process because it was a very big building with a lot of different stakeholders, and a lot of different challenges. FDC did very well to manage all of that. From the end result, you can see that FDC is a firm with integrity and they know what they're doing.

What goes into creating an iconic Maurice Terzini restaurant?

It starts with a complete narrative. When I brief my music guy, the first thing I give him is the menu. When I create my most iconic gigs, everyone is involved from the beginning. The graphics represent the product, the product represents the design. We talk to the architects about the style of service. Is it silver service, is it occasional service? How are we going to carry drinks? How are we not going to carry drinks? All these elements need to be considered. I want to create something that culturally gives back to the city and culturally gives back to the next generation. I want a venue that can assist producers to excel in. Provide a platform for young artists to perform in. Provide a platform for farmers to sell their product in. That’s what I want out of life.

Are there any surprising features to the menu?

I developed an Italo-Oz cuisine over the last 25 and 30 years, and it's become quite important to the Australian culinary landscape. With Icebergs and the Melbourne Wine Room, the brief was "flavours my parents would recognise, but food they would never cook." Whereas at the bistro, we went for a more Euro-inspired Oz menu. Food from the great hotels of the world. Part of that is elegant service; think the American Bar at the Savoy or the Wolseley or the Ivy in London. It's just classic bistro food. There's a great selection of steaks. One of the dishes, which is probably synonymous with the venue, is the gravlax. Grab the gravlax, a glass of chilled red, it's epic. Clams, because it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek. Beautiful pieces of fish that get flown down from the Barrier Reef. Just a really simple cross between a Euro and Italo menu.

What makes Jacksons on George a unique destination in the CBD?

It has a touch of the egalitarian to it; everyone is welcome. The design doesn’t dominate, which is really important—everyone feels comfortable. In such a big venue, that can be really challenging. I think its position is extremely valuable, but what will make it a destination for years to come will be its product. It's not just the food and the beverage. It's the vibe, the atmosphere, the music, the art, the service. Once everything gels together and becomes a really strong narrative, it will be incredibly iconic.

Image credit: Toby Peet