Morries has announced a change of ownership alongside the arrival of a new head chef, signalling a shift away from the Margaret River Hospitality Group (MRHG).
Long serving manager Dave Astbury, who was previously a 50 per cent partner in the business, has taken the reins and said the venue’s reputation for quality would be a strong focus.
“It’s always been a long held dream to own my place and when the offer was put on the table I wanted to give it a crack. I’ve always worked at Morries as if I’ve owned it, so it doesn’t really feel any different,” said Astbury.
The Manchester-born 29 year old has managed Morries for the last three years, and said he loved living in Margaret River.
“There’s so much to love about the region and it offers a fantastic lifestyle – there’s amazing options for produce, the coastline is stunning, the environment is pristine, the locals are friendly and I really like how progressive Margaret River is.
"There are lots of open-minded foodies here that like to try new things.”
New head chef Chris Mitchell arrives with a plan to concentrate on pairing dishes with cocktails from the bar of the much-lauded Billy Phillips.
“We’ve got a bloody Mary and a sardine dish, and last week we matched gin cured salmon with charred pineapple to a gin cocktail at the Giniversity night,” said Mitchell.
Also 29 years old, Mitchell was former sous chef at Voyager Estate following formative years in kitchens back home in Manchester and around the UK.
“Voyager was really valuable experience and although I’d been head chef at award-winning pubs and restaurants in the UK, I wanted to take a step back here so I could learn about the local produce, the wine and the what the region offers,” he said.
“Margaret River is such a beautiful part of the world, I love the abundance of produce, the first-class wines and just the relaxed lifestyle. It’s so easy to switch off and unwind.
“I’m thrilled to be in a fast-paced kitchen again producing share plates with food that’s simple, executed well and banging with clean flavours.”
Mitchell said that by Easter the Morries menu would be completely new and although still in development, would definitely include “epic scotch eggs” in a nod to his heritage.
“My dream for Morries is to make it a place where chefs want to go for dinner – where they can reliably enjoy amazing food in an casual yet upmarket setting,” Mitchell said.
Financially, Morries is no longer part of the Margaret River Hospitality Group (MRHG) with Astbury taking full ownership mid-December.
MRHG Managing Director Anthony Janssen said he was proud to have established Morries in Margaret River seven years ago.
“The time has come for us to focus on our coastal venues and our upcoming Dunsborough project,” Janssen said.
“Morries is a great business and Dave is more than qualified to run it - he always puts a hundred per cent into his work. I’m excited to continue working with Dave in a mentor role while he settles in and I look forward to the next chapter of Morries under Dave’s leadership,” Janssen said.
Morries is open daily from 12pm. To book, call (08) 9758 8280 or visit www.morries.com.au to book online.