Francky Godinho, chef St Georges Restaurant will be dancing to a different tune on Friday - acclaimed chef Francky Godinho has taken over.
The 34-year-old has a long list of awards including New Zealand Chef of the Year and Emirates Culinary Guild Chef of the Year twice.
He is a member of the New Zealand Culinary Team but cancelled a competition-trip to Wales for the chance to open his own restaurant.
In just one week he has gutted the interior of the two-level building and opens to a booked-out lunch on Friday, a booking that followed him from his former restaurant at Te Awa Winery. The Gimblett Gravels winery was sold by billionaire Wall St tycoon Julian Robertson to Villa Maria in October and the restaurant staff let go.
"Nobody really cared about the staff," he said. "I'm collecting them and bringing them here. It's important to look after your colleagues."
He is leasing the two-level building on St Georges Rd, visible from Havelock Rd, from the former owner/operators who are now concentrating on their Dutch Shop which has moved to Donnelly St in Havelock North.
Mr Godinho has had just one week to refurbish the restaurant to his liking and has several indoor/outdoor spaces he can place diners.
"The building has great potential," the chef said. "We are going to pump some numbers."
He is in it for the long-term, signing a 17-year lease.
"The bank came on board. I lined everything up for this - the house - everything."
Fresh vegetables won't be a problem with his own company, Bay Produce, already supplying other restaurants, including Elephant Hill and Ten Twenty Four, using contract growers.
"I tell them what to put in the ground. I grow what I can't find on the market," Mr Godinho said.
St Georges restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner Thursday to Monday. "I want a place everyone can enjoy - better than Te Awa."