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Big Poppa's is the late-night, Italian, hip hop, cocktail bar we've been waiting for.

Emily Lloyd-Tait

There’s a late-night Italian restaurant and bar coming to Darlinghurst, and they’re going to be packing 200 bottles of wine and a 1.8 metre-high cheese fridge.

Picture this. You are slinking down Oxford Street after midnight, desperate for a decent up drink because you worked back late, but most bars have moved to plastic at this hour, they’re insisting on mixing your Scotch and they’re about to shut anyway.

And then out of the darkness you stumble across Big Poppa’s, a late night haunt with a restaurant license, cocktail wizards behind the bar, a hip hop playlist and a platoon of Sydney bartenders talent leaning on the counter-top. This is the beautiful dream behind Big Poppa’s, the Italian restaurant and bar set to take over the former Hello Sailor space in Darlinghurst, captained by none other than Lewis Jaffrey (Baxter Inn) and Jared Merlino (Lobo Plantation).

When news hit that Hello Sailor was closing they saw an opportunity. “When it first came across the table, Lewis and I we were like, ‘where is the value in this?’ The value is there is no where left now that you can get into past one.” Says Merlino. “If you want to go and have a Daiquiri at 2 o’clock, you have zero options. So we’re thinking there’s a real gap there for people who finish work, they want to come in and have some pasta, have a salad, and a drink,” says Jaffrey. “We’re giving people the chance to be grownups.”

And in more exciting news, the Italian kitchen will have a serious cheese focus. “We both love cheese and we love everything that can be done with it. So the idea is that we have between twenty and thirty cheeses on rotation,” says Merlino. “We’re custom building a fridge just for cheeses that is 1.8 meter high, one meter wide and sits at 90% humidity.”

They’re collecting 200 wines for the list, with a small handful available by the glass and about 50% of the list will be Italian. “We want to really have a lot of rose on the list by the glass as well. When we hang out in the afternoon, we eat cheese, we listen to hip-hop and we drink rose,” says Jaffrey.

The cocktail list is still in development but you can expect a June opening to be offer ‘heartier, boozier led drinks’, but there’ll still be a blender for fruity numbers.

Right now the projected open date is mid to late June, but we’ll keep you posted on any developments. We’re as keen for that cheese fridge as you are.

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